…learning about Jamestown…

Over the past two years, as I’ve followed my heart and what I’ve believed was the leading of the spirit of God, my writing has traveled down paths I didn’t originally foresee. In the course of those travels, I’ve often been drawn away from my first love, that of showing the hand of God in America’s founding, and the times that came after it. Been drawn away, but have not forgotten…far from it! May it be for me, as the Lord Himself says, through the prophet Isaiah, that “…they may forget, yet will I not forget…I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands…” (Isaiah 49:15, 16)

So much of my focus had been upon the days of Revolution, and then, the staggering revelation of Columbus’ Divine call…I would have dismissed the Jamestown settlement as an incidental in the course of our history, a stepping stone or building block…just part of the process. Not really anything to write home about…how very, very wrong I was.
Learning about the Jamestown colonization is an eye-opening experience, at times stunning (not in a good way), even chilling. We want to believe (like Muldaur & Skully!) in the existence of a possible reality, in our case, a reality that embodies certain elements that bespeak courage & virtue. Well, think again, people…there’s more to that story…
ooo

What stands out the most for me, regarding this English settlement in America, is found in the intangible – the truth of human nature. Except the spirit of the Lord, through Christ, change us (and maybe even after that process has begun…) it is entirely to be expected that eventually, one way or another, corruption will poke its head up into the situation. It happens. And it happened in Jamestown.

(And just for the record, I’m not saying that we should try harder…that’s often what gets people into the messes they’re in. It is all about looking to Jesus. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him…” (Proverbs 3:6) One author stated that he still tries, but in a more relaxed way. Now there‘s a plan I can live with!)
And while I’m in this train of thought, I just have to say something else…even though Christopher Columbus absolutely believed he was called, setting out on a mission from God, and even though those who sought to colonize Jamestown and beyond (and those in between) may have seen themselves as forging a new Promised Land, a new Israel – I think it must be with EXTREME reliance on God that anyone attempt such endeavors. I counsel that there is great danger in being deceived, not in hearing the call but in the carrying out of it. We all want to feel important, special – even in small ways. So imagine thinking you are a chosen one? And well you may be, but – watch out, next thing you know, you’ve got Adolph Hitler.
My point is that focus needs to be on the true Holy One of Israel, not you, not me, not the Law or the Ten Commandments. Focus needs to be on the Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world, and the God who, though with & through you, works out your salvation, your calling for His good pleasure. Remember that He’s carrying the yoke with you.
***

So, getting back to Jamestown –

It occurs to me that, just as any new program needs to have the bugs & kinks worked out of it, and a test run or ‘pilot program’ may be in order, so it may have been with Jamestown. Rather than viewing it as a miserable example of walking away from God, perhaps it can be seen as a working out of the ‘kinks’. Perhaps such was the thought in the mind of God when He drew those first explorers & adventurers to this place. Certainly, the events that would transpire were already known to Him who knows the end from the beginning.

And it can surely be considered that it was the Lord bringing those first settlers to the eastern coast of America, and bringing them with the intention of staying & putting down roots. I say this because “The East Coast was populated by some of the most hostile Indian tribes in all of America” (Marshall and Manuel, The Light and the Glory), and the likelihood of the survival of newcomers was scarce – yet these first settlers found themselves in perhaps the only area along the whole Eastern seaboard where, at the time, there was a chance of it. The great tribal sachem Powhatan ruled in that area, and proved at times (only at times…) far more amenable, even perhaps merciful, than anyone would’ve dreamed, on one occasion sparing corn for the hungry white man.
***
Funny how greed & one-upsmanship played a significant part in America’s coming into being. Who would’ve thought, right? But as it turns out, motives were far from pure, in many. Having backed Christopher Columbus’ victorious thrust westward “Within a single generation, she {Spain} had become the most powerful nation on earth” (Marshall & Manuel, ibid.). England had missed out big-time on that bet, dismissing Columbus’ vision & declining him help. A century later, while there was still any unclaimed territory left, she wanted to get on that bandwagon! Though lips cried, Evangelize!, heart cries were another matter. The deeper motive, for many, was gold.
And dare I say it again? ”The love of money…”- it’s that same old root of evil ax I’m grinding here…Everywhere we turn, in every age & season, it keeps turning up! Essentially, it’s how America ended up in this current/recent recession – which, by some accounts, we’re beginning to recover, and frankly, I do believe it. God is our Helper, His compassions are new each morning.

***

Before the Virginia Company set sail for the New World, in December of 1606, resulting in the Jamestown colony, we first find two previous endeavors to settle and, um, ‘evangelize‘. Both were ordered by Sir Walter Raleigh, and together led to “…an epic unsolved mystery that still challenges historians and archaeologists…“ today (Eric Hause, The Lost Colony). In 1584, Sir Walter sent two explorers on a scouting mission to the Roanoke Island area, to search out the best locations for settlement. The men returned with glowing reports & two local natives. Raleigh was granted a patent ” to all the lands he could occupy…” (ibid.) by England’s Queen Elizabeth. Both he and she saw the colonization of this part of North America as an opportunity to accrue riches, and gain a vantage point of attack against Spanish treasure fleets (Wikipedia) (…need I say what I’m thinking here?…). A year later, Raleigh sent 100 men back to the land the Queen had dubbed “Virginia”.
Bad timing, unfortunate circumstances and alienation of the local Indians resulted in pending starvation. When a ship captained by Sir Francis Drake dropped anchor, the men jumped into it & headed back to England!
***

Shortly thereafter, a supply ship from England arrived, only to find the colony abandoned. Leaving a small group of settlers behind, to maintain an English presence, the ship returned to her homeland.

***

Now, the story of the next group of settlers is where it gets really interesting. Coming up next time, the lost colony of Roanoke…

Author’s note: Just a tidbit of ‘coincidental’ information…hmmm… Chief Powhatan, mentioned earlier in this post, lived in what is known the Tidewater region of Virginia. Hailing also from this region was Thomas Jefferson. I find it interesting that the man who wrote America’s Declaration of Independence and, almost 2 centuries earlier, the mighty Indian ruler who spared the life of a captain of the Jamestown venture (John Smith), and also spared them corn for food, essentially stood on the same ground.

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8 responses to “…learning about Jamestown…

  1. When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, they were seeking God. When the English landed in Jamestown in 1607, they were seeking gold. Gold is dead; God is alive. Loving gold more than God is idolatry. Idolatry is a killer."Seek the Kingdom of Heaven first and all of these things shall be added unto you."I was hitchhiking through Wyoming a number of years ago, and I stumbled upon this book:A Journey to the New World:The Diary ofRemember Patience WhippleMayflower, 1620October, 1620“The reason for our journey is our religion. Yousee, we are not the Pope's people nor the King'sreally, but God's people. We are Saints of theHoly Discipline. 'Saints'—-for short. That iswhat all of us English who went to Holland arecalled. And if we go to this New World, freefrom old King James and all the fancy churchrituals that are not to our way, we can worshipas we want. You see, we believe that the churchis in our heart and not in a building. So tis ourhearts that lead us.”America needs to put God first. Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.We have no King, but King Jesus.

  2. Hi Bubbalin' GG Christina:You apologize often for wonder, and it has me stumped again. You have been like a filly learning how to become a draught-horse. Don't take that the wrong way … now, but your astonished appeal is contagious.Yours,Pat Darnell and Friends

  3. @ Tim – very interesting diary entry, amazing that you 'came across' it. Powerful truth from the past.An aside here: Gold is dead; God is alive. Loving gold more than God is idolatry. Idolatry is a killer. This life/death contrast puts me in mind of how the Letter of the word kills, but its Spirit gives life. The Law (as the Letter of the Word) may,like gold,look good to some people, but it kills. God in Christ speaks words that are spirit & life. It is always wonderful to worship Him, but any other worship eventually enslaves.We should not ever idolize Law.

  4. @ MPW – not sure where I'm apologizing here, but I get your point! and I'm affirmed…I think…uhhh…and as for the Tidewater comment, for sure!

  5. Christina: Thank you for your comment on my comment.The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Amen.*****The reason why I love your blog so much is that I am on the road a lot. The Lord has me hitchhiking all over the place, so I can really only get bits and pieces from books here and there. If I know that I am staying in one place for a day or two I can maybe spend some time at the library and catch up on some reading.Keep up the good work and God bless you.

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