God’s Faithfulness Through The Generations
by Russell Gehrlein
Published on July 5, 2022
Categories: Aging | Grandparenting

God’s Faithfulness Through The Generations

By Russell Gehrlein


There was a country song recorded several years ago by Brad Paisley called “Two People Fell in Love”. He points out the obvious – that every one of us owes our very existence to the simple fact that at one moment in time two people fell in love. He describes a family reunion where members from five generations came in from 15 different states to have a picnic every June, all because 60 years ago Stanley Wilson knew that Ms. Emma Tucker was the one for him.

I mention this because I have recently embarked on a journey, not unlike one that many others have taken, to discover my roots. Two days ago, my son and wife were looking at the family tree information that my wife had collected a number of years ago. Her family has done a much better job about that than mine. I dug up a couple of documents of my own where I attempted to collate some family data. I started with the great-grandparents and worked my way to our kids, but it was incomplete, especially on my side of the family.

Late Thursday night I went to the internet to find some tools to help me build our family tree, and discovered MyHeritage.com. Fairly quickly I was able to begin to create a database where I could log in what I already knew, in hopes that I could find much more information about our roots. I was impressed by this site.

After spending several hours Friday night on this project (and paying a small annual fee), I was able to place over 270 people on our family tree with great detail. I was also able to locate several supporting historical documents such as actual census reports from 1940 and earlier and two high school yearbook photos of my mom.

Let me describe one strand of seven generations on my wife’s side. Christian Cassell, born in 1764, married Anna Maria Barbara Cassell and had William Cassell. He and his wife Elizabeth gave birth to Joseph Cassell who married Sarah Ann. They had a son, Ephraim, a Civil War veteran, who married a woman with the same name as his mom. He and Sarah gave birth to Orly Reuben Cassell, who married Carrie May Cassell. They had a son Ralph Cassell, Linda’s grandfather. He and Velma (Grandma “Bug” to Linda) gave birth to Linda’s dad Ronald.

On my side, I can go back only four generations. James Francis McKenna married Olive Jane McKenna, and brought forth their third son, Walter H. McKenna, my mother’s grandfather. I have seen video footage of him recently, made from my Uncle Skip’s 8mm home movies. He married Henrietta, and had a son Russell Edmund McKenna, for whom I was named. He and his wife Viola gave birth to my mother, who fell in love with my father and gave birth to me.

To borrow a phrase that comes up often from one of our key leaders at work, “This is all mildly interesting.” However, I do not want anyone to miss the point, which was hinted at in the title of this article. God’s mighty hand of protection and blessing is all over the Gehrlein family tree.

The faithfulness of God is something I hold very dear. My favorite old hymn, which they had better sing at my funeral, is “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. This key attribute of God is clearly revealed and illustrated often in Scripture and in the life of His Son Jesus. Psalm 36:5 links God’s love and faithfulness together: “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”

God’s faithfulness is also tied to His sovereignty. Since God is ultimately in control of His plans for His people, in spite of their apparent freedom of choice, He is able to control the very circumstances that led to our creation through two imperfect people who fell in love. The way I see it, God ensured that these ancestors in our family tree did what they were supposed to do so that we as His children now could do the things we are called to do.

Let me close with another appropriate verse from Psalm 100:5: “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

 Praise be to God for His faithfulness to His children!


Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband, father, grandfather, and blogger. He received a B.S. in mathematics from Colorado State University and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. God has given him a unique career journey as a junior/high school math and science teacher, youth pastor, and service in the military. Russ has worked as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood for the past 13 years. He is an ordinary man whose passion is helping other people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work.

His first book, Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession is A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work. Russ has written for the NCO Journal, Army Chemical Review, Campus Life, and for the Center for Army Lessons Learned. Russ has been published in Christian blogs and websites such as, Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, and The Gospel Coalition. His blog, Reflections on Theological Topics of Interest, inspires him to write on a continual basis.

 Feature photo published with permission from Wallpaper Access.



  1. God’s Faithfulness Through the Generations | Reflections on Theological Topics of Interest - […] (Note: This article was published on the Christian Grandfather Magazine blog.) […]

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