God and ASDA

Stories and thoughts: past, present and future

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Are We Nearly There?

If you’ve followed my Blogs to date, you’ll already know that, when I was a child in the post-war Midlands there wasn’t much money to spare for extras. However, we always seemed to have enough for a holiday by the sea – not every year, but certainly I can remember a couple of times. On both of these occasions we went to a caravan site at Prestatyn, a holiday resort in north Wales, and spent a week there.

My parents didn’t own a car until the beginning of the 1960s, so if ever we went any distance it would be by coach or train. However, for these holidays I definitely remember going by car.

My Dad, as an extra part of his duties at work, would often be called upon to drive the elderly Managing Director into work and as a “thank you” he was allowed to borrow the car occasionally for his own use. The car was a 1948 Ford Prefect and I can still remember the registration – HFD 718. If you own that car, then it’s the one I once rode in!!!

So, off we would go, with our things packed, not in suitcases, but in bags and bundles. (I don’t think we owned any suitcases as we didn’t often go away.)

Today, the journey from where I lived to the holiday destination takes 2hours and 9 minutes and is 108 miles in length, 69 of which are on motorways. So, forget the motorways, imagine you’re driving in a three-speed Ford Prefect and you’ll realise that it probably took us almost a whole day to get there!

On the journey we’d sing songs or play I-Spy and when we became bored with that (three kids in the back of a cramped car!) we’d start asking, “Are we nearly there?” We’d probably travelled only a few miles, but it did seem a very long way!

So the next thing was, “first person to see the sea”, but we had too many false alarms so that was scrapped – “Are we nearly there?” Dad and Mum suggested different things we could look out for – buses, cyclists, cars like the one we were in, horses and carts, but each time we ended up saying, “Are we nearly there?” It could vary, of course, “Are we there yet?” or “How much longer?”.

We would, of course, eventually arrive and have a great week playing on the beach, paddling, splashing about, building sandcastles, hoping the incoming tide wouldn‘t wash it all away. We never asked for anything more – it was wonderful.

But, all too soon the week was over and yet, you know, the funny thing is, we never asked the same question on the way home!! We just wanted to stay in that lovely place forever.

My Christian journey has been a bit like this. I was travelling along the road towards salvation and once this was achieved by accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour then I wondered “What next?” “Am I there, yet?” At first I had no-one to help me or show me the next step, as it were.

If you’re in this position, or even if you’re still searching for the answers, my advice to you is to speak to someone who is already a Christian, They’ll soon point you in the right direction and then you won’t have to ask, “Am I nearly there?”

    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
    (Jeremiah 29 verse 11 N.I.V.)
    That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
    (Romans 10 verse 9 N.I.V.)

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Parcels From Canada

When I was a child in the 1940s, there were no such things as beefburgers, pizzas, chicken nuggets and no-one owned a home freezer, so shopping had to be done regularly. During the Second World War food was severely rationed in the U.K. and many families often had to go without some of the most basic provisions – things that we take for granted in these affluent days of the 21st century. Ration books were issued and families had to register in order to have one, and the coupons were handed over to the butcher or grocer in order to ensure that no-one was hoarding food.

At this time, there were organisations that arranged food parcels from abroad, and people in Canada and America could be linked with a British family and send the occasional parcel of items which were not available in England. Recipient families had to qualify to receive such parcels and my family was one of those that did. It was probably because my Dad had served in the Auxiliary Fire Service during the Blitz. I think that maybe he was classed as being unfit for military service. I’m sure there was some kind of means test involved, too. But I have no idea how the system worked, or how it was set up. All I remember is the excitement in the house the day a parcel arrived.

We would all gather around the table as Dad opened the box and we looked inside to see what had been included. The box contained dreamed-of luxuries like tea, sugar and coffee packed in little wooden containers, tins of jam and a selection of tinned fruits and sweets. I think the thing Mum liked most of all, though, was the nylon stockings which were always included. That was her treat and no-one else’s. It was a really exciting time and, for a few days following the arrival of the parcel, we had tinned fruit for tea perhaps twice a week instead of only on Sundays.

The donor family lived in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, and they kept in touch with my parents after the war. When they visited England in the early 1950s they called round to the house to look us up. Unfortunately there was no-one home but me and I was forbidden from opening the door to anyone, so they left a note to say they’d called. How sad that we weren’t able to meet them after all their kindness over the years.

These parcels were a free gift from one kind and loving family to people they didn’t even know, and eventually never got to meet.

There is another sort of love available, free, to all. God’s love, which is unconditional. He loves you and me even though He knows all about us and sees all the things we do and hears all the things we say. We might think we’re the bees knees because we don’t commit murders, or steal, or damage people’s property. But we ALL do bad things, called sin, and God still loves us. In fact, He loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to live amongst us and teach us the right way to live.

Jesus died on the Cross at Calvary for each and every one of us. That was the price God paid for us to be saved from an eternity of darkness. We who are believers know that we will one day be with Him in Heaven. And Jesus is coming back soon. If you leave it any longer to get to know Him and accept Him as your Lord and Saviour, it may be too late. The Bible tells us quite clearly what will happen when He comes back. Check it out. NOW!

    Brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (Thessalonians 5 verses 1-3)

And we’re told how much God loves us:

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3 verse 16)

    For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3 verse 23)

    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14 verse 6)

    (All scriptures taken from the New International Version 1980)

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I was doing my weekly shop recently (in Asda, of course!) and picked up a leaflet produced by the Marine Conservation Society. It’s a guide on how to choose sustainable seafood, showing which species are well managed, well caught and so on. This set me thinking about fish and fishermen around the world. We buy our fish from the supermarket or wherever but do we ever think of the way it’s caught, landed and prepared? I seldom did until I read this leaflet. So, from now on I shall never eat shark or ray!!

But seriously, fishing has been an important part of life for thousands of years. It’s one of those things that we, the consumer, takes for granted.

Fishing was also a part of my young life, but none of my “catches” were ever eaten.

We lived, as I’ve said before, in the industrial Midlands and the sea was something we visited, perhaps, once every couple of years – it was a big adventure! Nearby where we lived was one of many branches of the canal network that ran through the area.

Dudley Canal

This is where we would often go fishing , boys and girls together.

Unlike many of today’s children, we wouldn’t just pop down to the shops and buy all the gear – ours was made from scratch. Dad was very adept at making “something from nothing” and so it was with my fishing gear. He took a piece of wire and formed it into a circle, twisting the ends together to form a point which he would place securely inside one of his tomato canes. He then “borrowed“ one of Mum‘s old stockings, cut off the upper part and used the foot part for a “net“. This was carefully folded over the wire circle and secured with a few stitches. Voila, a fishing net!!

Next he found an old jam jar, tied string around the neck and formed a carrying handle.

Then, off we’d go down to the canal (known locally as the “cut”). We’d find a good clear space, fill our jars with water, lie down on our tummies and dip the net into the water. Whatever was in the net we’d tip into the jar, hoping for tadpoles or even a tiddler (our name for a stickleback).

I loved it when I caught something because I knew that Dad would be so proud of me when I got home. We’d watch the little tadpoles grow legs and marvel at their metamorphosis into frogs. (If they survived that long!)

Sometimes we’d take them into school to put on the nature table in the classroom. Our teacher would write our names on them so that all the class would know who had brought them in. This kind of recognition was very important to me at that age, being the middle one of three who usually took all the flak for the other two!! (I love you both really!)

My Dad had his own fishing rod at some stage and he always maintained that sitting on the canal bank with his rod and line often helped him to sort out problems; but my kind of fishing will always be a very happy memory.

Fishing occurs quite a lot in the Bible and Jesus often uses it to illustrate His stories and teaching.

He tells the disciples that He will make them “fishers of men” (Matthew 4 verse 19)

And He uses loaves and fishes to feed the people who gathered around Him.

In Matthew 14 we see that the disciples were afraid that there would be too many people to feed so they suggested that the crowd be sent away to buy food.

Verse 18 says:

“Bring them here to me,” He (Jesus) said.

19 And He directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.

20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Did you know that in the years following the ascension of the resurrected Jesus to heaven, the Christian church grew rapidly. Christians soon found themselves to be the subjects of persecution by both the Romans and the Jews. In many places it became dangerous to be known as a Christian, thus, when two strangers met and thought maybe they were fellow believers, one of them would draw, on the ground, the upper half of the fish symbol. Recognizing the symbol, the stranger would add a second curved line and complete the drawing of a fish.

It is a very simple shape to draw – just two curved strokes. It could be drawn quickly, and erased just as quickly if there was no sign of recognition on the part of the stranger.

So next time you see a fish on the back of the vehicle in front of you, you now know what it means – the vehicle in front of you belongs to a Christian – it might even by me!!