Monday, April 30, 2018

Spooky or heavenly intervention?

Now let me begin by saying I'm not one of those people who see God at work in absolutely everything. I do believe that he is interested in every aspect of our lives but I also believe that He expects us to do things for ourselves as well. Like looking before we cross the road or not jumping off a tall building. And also I think some things are just coincidences. 

But now and again it's a coincidence too far.

You may know that I sometimes go into prison for the Sunday morning service. Sometimes I'm just part of the congregation, sometimes do the talky bit and sometimes, as yesterday, I lead, that that is, I introduce the speaker and the songs and stuff like that.

Yesterday the musician had chosen the songs and the first one was Amazing Grace. We're restricted in the songs we can sing as they have to be fairly well known or easy to pick up so we sing Amazing Grace quite a lot. While we were singing I was suddenly struck by one line: 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far.

It's never hit me before but I felt I had to say something about it to the men. I've told the story on here before I'm sure but this will be a slightly different perspective.

When I was nineteen my mum had a serious stroke and was in hospital at the other side of town. We didn't have a car so one evening my cousin's girlfriend, Anne, offered to drive us there in her mother's car, us being me, my grandmother and my gran's sister, Auntie Gay.

When we came out of the hospital to come home my gran sat in the front passenger seat as was her God-given right as elder sister (!) and I went to sit behind Anne. Then my gran said, 'No, let Auntie Gay sit there so the car will be balanced.' (She and my great-aunt were both quite large ladies so I think she imagined the car toppling over if they both sat on the same side.) I duly swapped seats.

One the way home we had a crash: a lorry drove into the side of us and Auntie Gay was killed.

For a very long time I blamed myself. No, not blamed but felt I was the one who should have died. 'It should have been me.'

Then, as I say, yesterday the words of the old hymn struck me: 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far.  Was it God who initiated my change of seat? I think maybe it was. 

Maybe he had plans for my life, plans for me to be an amazing servant for him. If that's so he may be a bit disappointed now; or maybe there's still time for me to be Billy Graham-like and travel the world evangelising millions. No, okay, I don't think that's likely either. Or maybe my purpose was to bear three wonderful children. Or just to make cakes every week for Zac's. Or as a friend has often been heard to say, 'My life is meant to be a warning to others!' Who knows? Well, God does, thankfully.

And do you know the strangest thing about this story? The thing that only struck me last night when I was in bed - which when I tell you what it is will make me sound like an idiot for not seeing it before?

Auntie Gay's real name was Grace. Spooky? Or heavenly?


PipeTobacco said...

Very interesting story. It was of course sad for your aunt, but we are glad you were ok. I can truly imagine how it must have been and may still be something you think about and wonder on a lot. The one time you swapped places.... very thought provoking at so many spiritual and emotional levels.

tammy j said...

oh my Liz. that is a powerful memory.
it is said that people who survive things like airplane crashes when most or all others die have a life changing realization that stays with them always.
i grew up saying silently when seeing devastation... "there but for the grace of God go I"
but then i decided to stop feeling that and saying it. and it had to do with an incident. Bob and I survived a large tornado once. they're so common here as to be hardly newsworthy. but they interviewed people on the news about it in the area as they usually do afterward. one neighbor said "oh! the Lord spared us." and next to her was rubble that had been her neighbor's home. that family were all dead. it's as if her words were a slap in the face to them. (at least it was to me.) it's not enough they were killed? the little children too? and she was so wonderful that she was spared? i just don't think He works like that. some of what this planet dishes out is just what this planet dishes out! i do think we are given strength and grace to get through it probably. but ... i can't see Him picking and choosing! just an opinion. and not to rile anyone up that reads it! we will know all the answers some fine day!
and until then you surely must be doing wonderful work in that prison. i admire you! xo

Liz Hinds said...

I agree, Tammy, that it can sound as if God is picking and choosing. On the other hand when I see a homeless addict I do say it because that sort of tragedy - usually something bad triggers it off - means it could be any of us and i am grateful to God that it isn't me. It's not saying God picked me but that, in different circumstances it could have been and I have no right to look down on the addict. Do you see what I mean? It's more often a reaction to other people who do look down on the homeless: it could have been you - it could still be you.
I agree that so many of the world's disasters happen because of human action, usually greed, and sometimes it is just nature. People ask, why does God let it happen? without thinking about our part in looking after the world.

tammy j said...

definitely! i do see it from that perspective. it's never black and white is it? there are always extenuating circumstances.
actually i was homeless myself once after Bob died. it was about 2 years later. due to an illness i could ill afford! lol. sorry. no pun intended there. but it led to financial crisis for me. and before i could get back on my feet i realized i was living paycheck to paycheck. and then i didn't have one. apartments here charge first and last month's rent + a hefty deposit! so i just lived in my car while i raised enough money to rent one. it was before the internet and i had no idea how to even do it but i did. we're given strength.
at first i remember thinking... "what happened to me? i'm an educated person! i have lived a life not remotely anything like this!" one should never ever feel smug. or as if nothing bad could happen to you really. it can change in an instant in this world. i only lived in my car for about 2 months. but that was enough to never make me judge another's survival of anything again!
you're right. there but for the grace of God go i. (and dad gum girl. another long winded reply here from me. i'll get better!)