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Saturday, 12 September 2015

When God spoke to me...

I have arrived at one of the biggest crossroads of my life. This very weekend I officially retire from full time work, a permanent ceasing after 47 years of earning a living since April 1968, including 35 years as a self employed domestic window cleaner. It will feel strange, even if I most likely take on an occasional job from time to time, such as cleaning the windows of a friend's house, or even willing to emulsion the walls of someone's bedroom (the very last paid job completed as a bachelor before I married 48 hours later). Or maybe giving a hand at midweek church arrangement - unpaid, but enjoying fellowship whilst volunteering - really, anything to get out of the house daily. For the idea of retiring from full time work was inspired by the thorough enjoyment I'd experienced while on convalescence from February this year, all three months of it, and to tell the truth, the need to return to work in June had broken my heart. 

One of the benefits of the convalescence period was the strengthening of our marriage. The ability to be at hand whenever Alex needed me gave her a far greater sense of assurance than when I was out of the house from morning to evening every weekday. But I have never disliked my work, especially as one self employed. I now smile at this, but I recall having a chat with one of my clients, and telling him how wonderful to be the human boss of the business, and as such, the underlying secret of its longevity. Human boss? I wonder what my client thought of that statement? I doubt that he had ever met a non-human boss. Or perhaps he has met quite a few! But for me at least, I acknowledged that the true Boss was God himself, and I was merely a steward of the responsibilities the occupation consisted.

But to divorce Mondays from Sundays is wrong, I believe. With many a church-goer, a typical week may looks something like this:

Sunday - Devotion to God. Monday-Friday - Work and responsibilities. Saturday - Day off.

Such a way of living, subconscious as it may be, may surprise a person when the Lord suddenly cuts in during the week. So I recall such an unforgettable Monday morning of October 1992. That was the morning I had a vision to visit Jerusalem during the following year to pray over the city. Up till then, for the last twelve years, I was struggling financially to make ends meet. That year, I was fortunate enough to accompany a mate to the Lake District National Park up north in Cumbria, a typically average break in those days. Then from that very morning onward, I was able to put away £20 every week for ten months. This gave me more than enough to spend a full two weeks in Israel, staying at a backpacker's hostel in the heart of Jerusalem Old City. Since then, I have experienced a dramatic change in lifestyle. From the same line of work, I was able to return to Israel a year later in 1994, where I stood on the summit of the Mount of Olives, overlooking the city from the east. It was at that moment that I had a sudden inspiration to backpack the United States exactly a year later, opening the door to further travel, including Singapore and Australia in 1997.

This is the grace of God expressed through love. Looking back, I am now convinced that the vision I had that dreary Autumn morning was from God, simply because of the resulting change in my life.
Grace - Gift Received At Christ's Expense. What other language can such an acronym be applied to such a beautiful word? That is what grace is about, isn't it? Receiving good things without deserving them, let alone attempting to earn them. And the greatest demonstration of grace is found in Luke 11:13. Here Jesus, who is addressing a crowd he calls evil, promises the Holy Spirit to fill anyone who simply asks. That is grace. For someone with an evil heart to be filled with the Holy Spirit. No if's or but's. God's grace overcomes evil. The Holy Spirit enters an evil, unregenerate heart and regenerates it, making the person a new creation and adopts him into God's own family. That's why I believe in the "sinner's prayer" - asking Jesus to come into the heart. It is synonymous with asking for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three in one Godhead, the Holy Trinity.

I was reading the Old Testament book of Job just the other day, and what his young friend Elihu had to say about God's grace was quite intriguing. For he says,
If it were (God's) intention and withdrew his spirit and breath,
all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust.
Job 34:14-15.

This brings me to mind of a newspaper article about a book recently released, Magicians Of the Gods, by Graham Hancock, who also wrote Fingerprints of the Gods which sold over a million copies worldwide. In Magicians, Hancock uses various ancient prophecies from non-Biblical sources as evidence that within the next twenty years a comet will pass within the Earth's gravitational pull, explode in the upper atmosphere, and its impact on the planet will wipe out all life, including mankind, parallel to the supposed impact of an asteroid which had eliminated all dinosaurs some sixty million years ago.

Perhaps there is only one Biblical reference to this kind of disaster, and it's found in Revelation 8:8-11. Here, two large bodies from space falls to the Earth. The first is "something like a huge mountain, ablaze, was thrown into the sea." The second, "a great star, blazing like a torch" fell on land, most likely in the Middle East, while the first fell into the Mediterranean. This looks to me like one comet or asteroid which broke into two and the friction with the air caused them both to become incandescent. But neither brings the whole of mankind to extinction, but rather only one third of all sea creatures in the Mediterranean, along with just a third of all mariners who were unfortunate enough to be within its impact zone. Likewise, the second fragment poisons the rivers, and according to Revelation 9:1, the impact caused a cloud to cover the land, darkening the sun and moon.

Very much like that of a volcano blowing its top, as with the case of Krakatoa in August 1883. This explosion has killed up to 36,000 people, many by the resulting tsunamis, and darkness lasting for three days covering an area of 275 miles 442 km. For such an event as this, the explosion did not wipe out the whole of the human race, and it looks like the asteroid of Revelation would have a very similar effect, but it will not make the human race extinct. And that is because of the grace of God.

And here is where I believe authors such as Graham Hancock had got it wrong. Because of the grace of God, life on Earth as we know it will never be destroyed by a comet or asteroid impact. And it was both Abraham and the prophet Jeremiah who gives the reasons. Abraham was interceding for Sodom not to be destroyed if there were as little as ten righteous people living in the city. God assured him that the presence of just ten righteous persons would be enough to save the whole city (Genesis 18:16-33).

Jeremiah wrote that the very existence of the Earth and the Universe as a whole hangs upon the promise God has made with Abraham's descendants, the nation of Israel. In Jeremiah 33:19-26 for example, it is God himself who reassures the distressed prophet, who had watched his beloved city Jerusalem fall into the hands of the Babylonians, that unless the divine covenant with the day and with the night can be broken, God will never reject the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is the wonderful promise of his grace, that the very existence of Israel guarantees the ongoing life for the entire planet.

To believe the Gospel saves us from such anxieties - comet impact, volcanic eruptions, rising sea levels, tsunamis, a mass pandemic, worldwide famine, or anything that could wipe out the whole of mankind on a universal scale. Because of God's grace, it will not happen. And amazing enough, it was God's grace that had saved my life, literally three times when I was a youth, including a daring challenge to swim out to the end of the pier at a seaside resort. About halfway, it turned out that the tidal current was so strong that I found myself drifting towards the support structs of the pier itself, and I grabbed and held on to a girder, or else the current would have sucked me under. It was only through another swimmer, older and stronger than myself, who gave me line-by-line instructions to get me back onto the beach, which had saved my life. The grace of God has triumphed.

Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.
Psalm 25:7.

Since God's grace has sustained me from the day of conception to this day, why should I fear and worry over the future, particularly in the financial area? As this is a huge turning point in my life, it is so tempting, and quite reasonable too, to ask, What now? Experience has already shown that claiming benefit, in this case Pension Credit, as I am still two years under 65, has been a fickle affair, with a maze of clauses and conditions that can trip me up, in this case forcing me back to work after telling all my clientele of my retirement. How embarrassing! How much of a prat would I feel? Trusting in the goodness of God brings peace. Realising that all things work for the good for those who love him, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). If the benefit claim fails, and I have to return to work, I'll be bitterly disappointed, but I will also be aware that God not only knows about it, but he is sovereign. Everything is for a good reason.

May I close with a request for prayer, that all will go to plan, and I indeed can retire from full time work with God's blessing. And may God bless you all.


  1. All will go according to plan Frank, God's plan, for our times are in God's hands, and we need not worry about the things that we need in life. For if we first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness then all these things will be us. God has proved this true in my husband and my self's life.
    It is interesting that you had a vision. I had one too, shortly after being born again when I was in Australia. I walked into our bathroom and I was suddenly inside a lighthouse, it was completely transformed. There were all little boats on a very rough sea outside, with people in them who were in danger. After other things going together with this over a few years I was told (in a poem that just dropped into my head), something that has come true through sharing on my blog. I would not have had a clue that I would even know how to 'blog' at that time. God brought it about in a most amazing way.

  2. Dear Frank,
    Praise God that He is in control, that He has had a plan for each of us since before the beginning of time, and that He works all things together for our good and His glory, to give us an expected end. Praying that His perfect will be done, and thanking and praising Him in advance for His amazing grace.
    God bless,

  3. As i look at the promises of God, I sometimes wonder how a person who doesn't believe the Bible could even live, unless their minds were blinded to what is going on. As a Christian, on the other hand, we have nothing to fear.