Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Lesson of Cynthia Ann Parker

I recently heard an interview with author, S. C. Gwynne, on National Public Radio. Gwynne has a new book titled, Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. It is a historical account of the struggle between the Comanche and white settlers.

The book’s main focus is Quanah Parker, who was the last and greatest chief of the Comanche tribe. Quanah never lost any battle that he fought. He was a fierce warrior and an imposing presence. Later in life, he decided to “walk the white man’s way” by surrendering and assimilating himself into society.

Quanah was the son of chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker. Cynthia Ann Parker was part of the large Parker family that settled in Texas in the 1830’s. She was captured by the Comanche tribe in a raid in 1836. Cynthia Ann was nine at the time.

Due to her young age, she completely forgot her former life, and became one of the Comanche tribe. She stayed with them for 25 years, and actually married their chief. With him, they had three children, of which Quanah was one. She was perfectly content with her life as a Native American.

In December of 1860, she and her two year-old daughter were captured by Texas Rangers in a battle that took the life of her husband, Chief Nocona. When the Rangers began to question her, they noticed that she had blue eyes. It was then that they realized who she was. The story of Cynthia Ann Parker had been in all of the newspapers years before, so she was something of a celebrity. She could not speak English, but recounted what she could remember of her capture. They knew they had finally rescued Cynthia Ann Parker. She was returned to some of her family, the government gave her over 4,000 acres, and she was given a pension of $100 per year for the next five years. She was finally home.

There was one problem. She did not want to be there. She tried, for the final ten years of her life, to escape back to the Comanche tribe. She wanted nothing of the land, family or pension. She only wanted to be with the people who raised her. She died in 1870, never seeing her sons or the Comanche people again.

We tend to be very innocent in our young lives. However, at some point, we are captured by the temptations of the enemy. For some, the temptations to sin come very early, for some they come later, but they always come. At first, we may resist and fight the sin that tears us away from the God who created us and loves us. Unfortunately, many times we become like Cynthia Ann Parker. We simply assimilate ourselves into the enemy camp.

When God, through His grace, pulls us back into fellowship with Him, by the shed blood of Jesus, many times we surrender. Many times we resist. However, when we do finally surrender, we tend to fondly view our time spent in sin. We long for the days when we did certain things, or we crave the company of the people who were enablers to our temptations. You can hear it sometimes, in the testimony of a Christian, as they recount the “bad things” they did when they were without Christ. Sometimes, you can almost hear a longing for those times in their voice before they catch themselves and talk about how much “happier” they are now.

When Moses was leading the Hebrews out of Egypt, they were eating manna and drinking water. They began to get disgusted with the same things over and over, so they complained. Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” (Numbers 11:4-6 NKJV)

The Hebrews were slaves in Egypt. It is very likely that they never had such luxurious things to eat while in slavery. In fact, Egyptian records from the era have been found and no such items were listed as slave rations. They were remembering their past bondage more fondly than their present experience.

If Cynthia Ann Parker had given herself over to her true family, she might have been reunited with her sons, and perhaps Quanah may not have taken so long to surrender to the “white man’s ways.” Give up your past and your present to God. Thinking we were having more fun in sin, is simply a lie of the enemy. God gives us a life full of joy that is not dependant on our circumstances. He created us and simply wants the best for us.

You have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry… If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:3,11)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I am reading the book now and I am asking myself where God was in Cynthia Ann Parker's life. You provide an explanation for her misery after re-capture but the author had a different take: he thought the re-taking of Cynthia Ann was more cruel to her than than the first taking. She was not longing for the fleshpots of Egypt but for her adopted family members and her two sons. She worked so terribly hard as an Indian it is hard for me to see her longing for her former life as the equivalent of a re-born person's longing for his former sinful ways.