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A random act of kindness

Posted on January 26th, 2017

Here’s the story: we had 6 old 1970s radiators taken out of our house this week, and they’ve been sitting outside the front of the house for a couple of days while we work out how to get them to the tip. This morning I decided to wander over to the builders doing an extension for our neighbours over the road and ask them if we could put them in their skip if we paid a contribution towards the skip hire. They said I’d have to ask the owners of the house, which was fair enough, so I came home again with the plan to go and ask our neighbours this evening. 4 hours passed and the doorbell rang. It was the builder I spoke to this morning, who came over to tell me that there’s a local company who’ll buy the radiators for scrap if we can get them there.

I don’t think I’ve experienced such a completely unexpected and random act of kindness for a long, long time. It’s such a simple thing, but it was so kind and considerate I was truly taken aback. I spend a lot of time reading the news and I am often overwhelmed by the negativity that surrounds us globally and locally. Today this small gesture reminded me that people are, at heart, good and kind.

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God: our rock in the seas of change

Posted on January 19th, 2017

When you stop to think about your life, how many people have you known? How many people do you miss? How many places have you been to and how many do you want to visit in the future? Everyone in our lives changes, and we ourselves change all the time. Physically we change every day and on average our bodies are completely new every 10 years, with our bones taking the longest time to regenerate. Our communities change, our houses change, our jobs change, governments change, money changes value, music changes, art changes, technology changes…we are in a constantly changing world where there is only one constant: God.

Millions and millions of people have read work by German-born author Eckhart Tolle including a book titled ‘The Power of Now’. I’ve never read the book but have friends who have, and the principle is beautifully simple: there is no past and no future, there is only the present. It’s an idea that has been presented again and again by dozens of people, and as Bill Murray says in ‘Broken Flowers’,

“Well, the past is gone, I know that. The future isn’t here yet, whatever it’s going to be. So, all there is, is this. The present. That’s it.”

Our identities are built up of the past and the future in many ways, particularly the past. The relationships we have with those around us have been formed in the past, and our feelings towards people (both positive and negative) are based purely on what has happened before. In many respects, our lives work based on remembering the past and imagining the future, and it’s rare that we truly exist in the present.

The question I have been considering today is: if our friendships and relationships are based on shared past experiences, who would we have if we had our past erased? We see it in films where characters suffer amnesia and have to build an identity from scratch, and it’s often a convenient and sometimes ridiculous storyline. However, there is something truly profound in the idea that our human relationships come from times which no longer exist, because there is one relationship that is unchanging and unending: our relationship with God.

Don’t get me wrong, my relationship with God has changed significantly throughout my life, and my belief in God has had its ups and downs like everyone else’s, but the basic human understanding of God is that God is eternal, everlasting, immutable, unchanging. And if we look in the Bible this is a theme that runs throughout both the Old and New Testaments:

  • “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8
  • “For I the Lord do not change.” – Malachi 3:6
  • “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” – Isaiah 40:8
  • “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” – James 1:17
  • “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.” – Psalm 102: 25-27
  • “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” – Isaiah 40:28
  • “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Timothy 1:17

As Alice Morse Earle wrote, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” Could our gift in every moment of every day be the gift of God? And if so, what gift can we give God except ourselves, our lives, our everything? And who could be more worthy of our offerings than God, because as the Prophet Jeremiah said, “There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.” (Jeremiah 10:6)

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