As part of this blog, from time to time I’m going to explore some of the characteristics of God. This is on the basis that whilst I don’t believe I will ever fully comprehend God I believe he offers us a relationship through which we can know him. I’ll be seeking to go beyond the formal and the obvious, so I’ll pass on omnipotent and ‘very big’.
As a family we are blessed with having fantastic neighbours – Al and Jo. They are lovely people and great company and helpfully on hand when it looks like the house might be about to burn down (that incident with the wood burner and the candle that we can all laugh about now!)
Al is by profession a self-employed web journalist, which means that after a busy week of writing articles he is ready to pursue his passions of beer, football and DIY. Just about every week we him lovingly making or improving something for the house or garden. His love of DIY is very handy when we need some help with something, which is fairly often. I am fine with manual stuff like gardening and painting but it is well known that me and power tools are not a good combination and if a practical tasks needs figuring out you’ll be waiting a long time if it’s down to me. In the case of flat pack furniture, for example, I will find a way to get it wrong without exception.
This is where Al transforms into Super Al, highly skilled, with all the right kit and willing to do you a favour in return for beer. One time we were round at Al and Jo’s admiring the made to measure shelves he’d crafted for the recesses in their lounge when he offered to make some for us. Incredible, what a guy! So it was that a few months later we had our own set of handmade shelves to replace the rickety shelving units we’d had until then.
We were privileged to now be the owners of a unique set of Al shelves. When Al does a job he does it properly. He took time to talk through what he wanted. Al and Louise went to select the wood and then once back home Al took care to measure, cut and fit each shelf and each support. Al blessed us with most of his day till the job was done.
The time Al blessed us with his master-craftsmanship was around same the time Louise was coming to the realisation that she couldn’t continue teaching and was going to have find something else to do. We were starting the process of thinking through what that might mean and getting a new vision of how life could be. We knew this was the right move but it was a bit scary for me knowing we needed to have two incomes coming in.
One morning before I went to work I was praying some mumbled prayers about all this and God drew my attention back to the lovely shelves and the fact that they are bespoke – a one off set, carefully made to fit the space.
The sense from God was clear – if Super Al can make bespoke shelves, don’t you think I can make a bespoke solution for Louise? A couple of months later, Louise started a new job at Church Army, which has gone a huge way to restoring equilibrium in our lives.
We have experienced this sort of intervention in our lives many times where God has provided the right house or job just when we needed it. That’s not to say we have a fruit machine mentality to prayer – we know from painful experience God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want him to and we stand with others who are struggling to see what the next step in life is.
The point is that God knows us as individuals and wants to be involved in purposefully shaping our lives just the way Al shaped the shelves. A key part of this is drawing us into community so that when we face the tough times we don’t do so alone.
I’m fortunate that although I’ve been a part of churches since the age of nine, I’ve never had the experience of church as a dull, distant overbearing institution. I know there will be lots of people who’ve done a lot of sitting on unyielding pews in cold buildings, while some bloke in a frock booms away. This can only give a picture of God as dull, distant and overbearing. This is not the God I know. The God I know is not far away and rigid. The God I know is a bespoke master-craftsman who knows us by name.
The God I know, knows we need a bit of fixing up but he’s up for the job.
And I believe that when he sees us he smiles at what he has made.