- Created on Thursday, 01 July 2010 01:00
- Written by Richard Avery
I’ve never had a ride in an ambulance before and I didn’t plan my excursion on 6th May. I was in stunned shock when Dr Walshe told me he would order an ambulance and get me in to Gloucester Royal Hospital. But I was pleased to see the ambulance arrive and relieved that something was being done about the fever that I’d been struggling with for over a week. So instead of voting for who would run the NHS, I got to experience first hand the benefits of such a health service. And, as most of you know, they did find out why I had such a persistent fever. Praise God for the benefits of modern medicine!
This year there have been a number of programmes on television charting the course of great scientific discoveries, including the contribution of our local hero, Dr Jenner. I have long believed that the pursuit of scientific enquiry is one of God’s gifts to humanity. Until the twentieth century, most British scientists saw their work as shedding light on the wonder of God’s world and an insight into the nature of the Creator himself. As I found myself on the receiving end of treatment for pneumonia, I contemplated the blessing of benefiting from one of the great twentieth century medical breakthroughs: the discovery of the antibiotic action of penicillin by Alexander Fleming. Had I been a Vicar of Berkeley in the 1930s, I might well have ended up in Berkeley Cemetery.
Thankfully, with a hefty dose of antibiotics I made a steady recovery. But the combination of flu, pneumonia and several weeks of recuperation blew apart my plans for May. All sorts of parish matters lay unattended, people I had hoped to see were not visited, endless emails filled my electronic mail inbox and others had to scramble to prepare services that I was due to take. No, that was not my plan for the post-Easter period. Nor did Jenny and I plan to cancel the holiday we booked for the third week of May. This had all the makings of a very frustrating time. But surprisingly it was not so.
For many years I have known St Paul’s words:
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who a have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
And I have experienced the truth of these words, but never as dramatically as in May. During the antibiotic treatment my physical condition forced me to sit down and stop. It gave me time to read, think, listen to music and talk with Jenny. (Yes, I did watch TV but not that much.) We did not get abroad, but it was one of the best times we have spent together. God granted us a special freedom to share together and enjoy each other’s company. It was like a second honeymoon, coming exactly thirty years after the first!
At other times in my life the “good” that God works out of testing and difficult circumstances has taken longer to see. Years sometimes. But it is one of the mysterious aspects of Christian faith that God does work for good in our lives through experiences that we would never freely choose.
And as I began to pick up the threads of parish ministry again, Christine gave us her surprising news: a move to Stroud within weeks. This was certainly not what we anticipated when Christine began her curacy here two years ago. Back then she did not expect her son Matthew to go to Stroud College in September 2010. But Matthew’s choice of post GCSE study became clear by the beginning of June. It soon became apparent to Christine that she could not stay in Stone, support her son’s study in Stroud and find paid employment. In the goodness of God, Christine quickly found a very suitable house to rent in Stroud and will be moving there in the latter part of July. Her final weekend in the benefice will be 17/18 July.
Christine will complete her curacy training in one of the Stroud area parishes. Canon John Witcombe, Director of Curate Training, is working on this with Christine and we shall let you know the outcome in due course. So we and Christine are faced with unexpected changes later this year. More of God’s mysterious ways?? Amidst the uncertainties this brings, I look again at the words from St Paul. If we remain faithful to God, he is more than able to work these changes for good in our lives.
Meantime, do pray for Christine and Matthew as they move home yet again and adjust to life in a new community. We will keep in touch and look forward to sharing news of the good things that God is doing in all our lives.
Have a great summer!