Lovely email last night.
At present I am working on my sermon for Remembrance Sunday, telling the story of one of those men whom we commemorate: Edward Baker.
Thess Jutla and I have been trying to find any of his surviving relatives. Through Ancestry.com she had managed to make contact with a nephew in Essex. Meanwhile I had located a grandson in Chorley. And yesterday I managed to have conversations with both.
The point is that they had lost contact with each other since young children – and so I was able to give contact details. Hence the email:
Many thanks once again for sending these details.
I have spoken to Alan on the phone and he was delighted to speak to me. He is now 66 years old and I am 73.
The last time I clearly remember seeing him was when he was 2 years old!!
Doesn’t life bring surprises!
Well, Dave: it certainly does.
I suppose I’m at an age when I do meet people long-since encountered. Surprisingly – thanks to the internet – it is now happening on a fairly regular basis. Even last week the bloke I sat next to at school for four years and I haven’t seen for 50 years emailed out of the blue.
And the surprising thing in meeting up, of course, is how little we change, despite the travails of life and ravages of following Everton. The me that is me is remarkably constant. God’s handiwork seems altogether resilient.
As the apostle Paul writes: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:20)
For the good news of the Gospel is that God honours our individuality. For as Leroy Hood: “What is unique about humans is their individuality.”
So in surrendering my life to God, I don’t become absorbed in some mystic miasma. In Christ I never stop being me. Instead I stop being me-centred, which is something altogether different.
This is something worth emphasising. I do come across people who are hesistant, fearful even, of following Christ. They are wary of losing control and becoming some pale imitation of Jesus but without the sandals. The Holy Ghost is always the Holy Guest, seeking our permission to refashion our lives, to make us less self-centred.
It is, of course, a work in progress.
So in a strange way the more the Holy Spirit makes me more like Jesus, the more I become me. I guess this what Jesus was alluding to when he taught: Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39)
What gives each of us our own individual personality God heals and restores. He prunes, of course. Some relationships have to end; some pursuits have to be abandoned. But in all this God honours who I am – for I am his handiwork.
It was the Scottish divine, George MacDonald, who declared:
“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”