A testimony to the goodness of God
GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU
A testimony to the goodness of God
In every one’s experience there are changes in the way of life. Even in early life there is change. When we are at school we look forward to the day when we leave the grind of lessons and go out into the world of work. There we quickly find that things are not what we thought they would be. As we go on further in life we look for a partner, are married, and start a family. We may change our place of employment or move house. All through life we find change; things alter, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
Life changed for the better for me in November 1949 when I was converted by the grace of God to the Lord Jesus Christ. I look back over my life, and I find long before this happened how God had led me and been merciful to me in many ways,
I was born in June 1912, and I can remember little things of the first world war. My father was away for two and a half years. I remember seeing an airship, and also an aeroplane fly over the village of Cogenhoe (pronounced Cook-noe. in Northamptonshire) where we lived – rare sights at that time. There were shortages of many things in daily use; and I kept on asking my mother ‘When is Dad coming home?’ In November 1918 the armistice was signed and people were saying ‘The war is over.’ Nearly every house in our village flew a Union Jack. However, there were many men who did not return, and I remember how I used to run into the street to see if my father was coming. I was told I must wait, perhaps a long time, but eventually father came home.
The Spring of 1919 was a most beautiful one. In April or May of that year I went round to see my school friend Dennis Collier, who lived a couple of doors away from us, to ask if he was coming out to play. His mother said ‘No, but you may come with us if you like’. We went over to the Spring Banks, old ironstone diggings near to Cogenhoe. I wanted to play in the old workings but Mrs. Collier called us back and told us to sit on a bank near her. Looking back over the years, I can see her now with her wide-brimmed hat. She put her head in her hands, covering her face. Dennis and I did the same. What followed was a most wonderful feeling, as though I was enveloped with a glow of warmth. There was not a breath of wind. Nothing stirred. All was quiet except for the song of a yellowhammer in the hedge behind us. Now I realize this was possibly the first working of the Holy Spirit with me. We got up and went back home, and I thought no more about it.
On Sundays we attended the Cogenhoe Baptist Sunday School; how we loved singing! We were preparing for the Sunday School Anniversary. During the afternoon service of that day we sang two hymns; other children took part by taking the chair, reading from the Bible, and by reciting. The first hymn we sang as a choir was ‘Looking upward every day’. Later we sang the second hymn, ‘God will take care of you’. I remember singing the first verse; then I was overwhelmed and just stood and cried. It was quite a while before I could compose myself. I had the same feeling as before; I felt enveloped in love. At this time I was nine or ten years of age.
Things changed. We left Cogenhoe as a family and moved to the neighbouring village of Grendon. This was when I was eleven or twelve years of age. We began attending the little Union Chapel there, but I left off going when I reached fourteen or fifteen. I could then see no point in going either to Sunday
School or to Chapel; it did not mean much to me then.
A bus service was started from Grendon to Northampton, passing through Cogenhoe, so I used to visit my grandfather and grandmother who lived there still, about every two weeks. In the summer months Pap and I used to walk round the fields and the old ironstone workings. He taught me a lot about many things, especially nature; he was a herbalist. Towards the end of one summer Pap said, ‘Come on, we are going for a walk’. He got out his walking stick and away we went; down through the village, past the parish church, and down the hill to what is known as Walker’s Mill. As we walked along the tow path by the river Nene, quite unexpectedly. Pap said, ‘Let’s stop here’. When I looked he was on his knees with his head bowed. I got down on my knees beside him. Pap had never spoken to me about religion. I did not know whether he was a believer or not. However, there we stayed for a long while. In the parish church above us on the hill the evening service was about to begin; it was six o’clock. The hymn they sang was, ‘At even ere the sun was set, the sick, O Lord, around thee lay’. Then all was quiet, except for the calling of a waterfowl and the river spilling over the overshot. I opened my eyes once and, looking towards the West, I saw the sun as a big red orb, sinking into the distance. Then again that feeling of overwhelming peace and love came over me. After a while we got up and went back home. Not a word was spoken about this incident.
Again, changes took place. My grandparents died. The second world war came with all its disturbance and unrest. I Found a young lady with whom I fell in love, and we were married. Then I moved to OIney in Buckinghamshire. With many trials and ups and downs it seemed as if the years just rolled by.
At the end of 1948 I was not at all well. I could not find out what was wrong, even from my doctor. In the spring of 1949 I had a burst appendix. With an operation later in the year I got over this, but not before my parents took me back to Grendon tor a few weeks for a change. Perhaps it was wrong for me to go back, but I felt very ill; I felt at the end of myself and that I was facing my end. One afternoon during my stay at Grendon I walked across some familiar fields and, leaning on the iron railings, for the firsttime in my life I really prayed. I called out to God, ‘O God, what must I do to get out of this mess? What can I do?’ My eyes were closed and it was just as if I saw Christ on the cross on my left hand, and, looking down in front of me, I saw myself as a sinner. Again, I thought no more about it.
After a few days I returned to OIney and resumed my
employment. Soon after, my wife’s father died after a massive stroke on September 5th 1949. As he had had Baptist leanings my wife arranged for the funeral to be at Sutcliff Baptist Church, OIney. This service was conducted by Mr. Howard who had not long been the minister there. After this, my wife and I started attending the service on Sunday evenings and since I was brought up in connection with a Baptist Church, I felt at home. We liked going, and continued to go.
During one of Mr. Howard’s sermons, he spoke from 2 Kings 5.1-19. It was the account of the leper Naaman; how a little Jewish girl had said, ‘Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy’. But instead Naaman went to the king of Israel, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. The king thought Naaman had come to make a quarrel with him, and referred him to Elisha, who told him to go and dip in the river Jordan seven times. This annoyed Naaman, who thought he would have to do something brave or daring. Eventually he did go into the Jordan, and was healed. The preacher then said what a simple thing to dip in Jordan seven times; and what a simple thing it is for a penitent sinner to come to the foot of the cross. All Naaman’s money could not buy him healing and all our good works cannot buy a sinner salvation. Then the preacher asked, ‘What does the future hold for you?’ It was as if he was asking me as I sat there in the pew. I closed my eyes; I saw no future;
all was empty and void. I realized then that had I died when my appendix burst, I would have been lost eternally. I asked Mr. Howard if I could speak with him; I told him my story till that point, and how I felt then. We prayed together and, without any excitement or sensation, I felt my life changed, I was converted to God by His grace alone through faith in His Son. A new sense of purpose in life followed. I knew what Paul meant when he said, ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature’ (2 Cor 5.17); and, ‘your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you’ (2 Cor 5.19). I have now reached the age of seventy-two; a miracle has happened to me; I now have a future to which I can look forward.
From a very early age I had whooping cough, which left me with asthma and bronchitis. Since my conversion I have prayed many times that the Lord would take it (my thorn in the flesh’) from me, and it has now, in God’s time, been taken away. For the past ten years I have had neither asthma nor bronchitis, and I feel better now than at any time in my life.
Those who are Christ’s are held as with a bond, with a thread
of love sealed by the Holy Spirit. No person and no thing can separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8.35,38,39). Long years ago when I was a child, we sang ‘God will take care of you’. He has taken care of me through many illnesses and troubles; He has led me all through these years. Are you a Christian? Then He will take care of you, yes to the end.
I humbly realize what God has done for me in grace and salvation; and that He has done the same for many others. I recognize also that this has been done by the suffering and humiliation of His Blessed Son upon the cross. He was beaten, mocked, scourged, and His blood was shed. He is Saviour, and He is Lord. He is our Mediator before God. He is our AII. In Him alone we have life now, and life eternally. We read, ‘Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold… But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Iamb without blemish and without spot’ (1 Pet. 1.18-19). Whatever we have of our own, we cannot buy a place in heaven, and we cannot redeem ourselves. We can only confess our sin and plead the promise that He “will cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 Jn 1.9).
Conversion is the beginning, but it is not the end of the Christian life. There is also ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (Gal 5.22). The charismatic movement has much to say about ‘the spirit’. But do they know, and show, the ‘fruit of the Spirit’? ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance’. I worked on a building site some years ago, before my ‘thorn’ was taken away. A man came to me one day and said, ‘I wish I were like you’. I replied, ‘What? with my asthma and my bronchitis? Constantly losing time from work, and sometimes not knowing how to get through the day?’ ‘No’ he said, ‘I don’t mean that; I mean the fact that you seem happy, contented; you don’t worry about money or materialistic things; you just go steadily on with your work’. I said, ‘Ah, my friend, that’s what being a Christian does for me;
that’s what comes from trusting in the Lord for all we needÂ— not what we want’.
Christ has bought His people with His precious blood, and they are His. He has been and is precious to His people. Many have died rather than deny what Christ has done, and they have a crown of glory that fadeth not away. When I look back over my seventy years, and see how the Lord has led me and been merciful to me, I can say, ‘We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us’ (Rom 8.37). The first and foremost thing is union with Christ. In Him ‘we have all things and
abound’; we know that He will neither leave us nor forsake us. ‘Repent, and believe the gospel’ and ‘God will take care of you’ as He has taken care of me.