Paul says that God “chose us in him” to emphasize that salvation depends totally on God. We are not saved because we deserve it, but because God is gracious and freely gives salvation. We did not influence God’s decision to save us; he saved us according to his plan. Thus there is no way to take credit for our salvation or to allow room for pride. The mystery of salvation originated in the timeless mind of God long before we existed. It is hard to understand how God could accept us. But because of Christ, we are holy and blameless in his sight. God chose us, and when we belong to him through Jesus Christ, God looks at us as if we had never sinned. All we can do is express our thanks for his wonderful love.
Who else can say that they are loved by God for His Spirit is in them? Our relationship with God is a two-way street, any and every relationship is. God does love you dear reader even if you do not love Him. Having a relationship with your Creator is a truly wonderful thing, better than any other relationship you may have in you life. You may not think you are worthy to have such a relationship or even think it possible but you would be wrong in thinking that. God’s arms are open wide to receive all who would call upon Him and He has made it possible, not you or by anything you do. To have a relationship with God is only possible because of what Jesus has done for you. He took upon Himself the sins of the world, even your sins, so that if you believe in Him and the One who sent Him you will be saved for all eternity and the relationship with God will have begun. Like any relationship it gets better the deeper it gets.
Life can be so hard sometimes but it can be so easy too. Things often seem more difficult or hard to deal with than they actually warrant. We ourselves can make life’s situations more difficult but if we could just stop and think things over we might find no problem really insurmountable. In every area of our lives this is so. However, it is one thing to overcome everyday situations we feel we could not previously handle and another when it involves others. Relationships with fellow humans can be fraught with difficulties especially where there is a clash of personalities, ideas, beliefs and so on but it shouldn’t be that way. It is a matter of how much we really love the other person, do we humble ourselves and put them first even if we know they are wrong? As Christians we are told to love one another, to love our neighbour (which is everyone else living on the planet) and in doing so honouring Christ. It doesn’t always work that way as anyone will tell you. I was watching a television program whilst waiting for another program to begin and it was called ‘Nightmare neighbour next door’. Many in the UK will probably have watched it themselves. The title is somewhat self-explanatory but in essence it reports relationships about people living next to each other who for one of many reasons just don’t get on with each other. Often the friction is one-sided and often it is based upon trivial concerns. As outsiders we can see the whole story and the stubbornness of people who simply cannot see their way to make an effort to resolve their differences. It is about love and putting others before ourselves but at the same time we shouldn’t simply let others take advantage. Being humble doesn’t mean being servile. Whilst watching one incident between two neighbours it seemed obvious that only one of them, a woman, was the source of the problems between them. The guy who lived next door had to put up with her unbelievably bad behaviour and for some time until one day he took complete control just using words. At this point I fell about with laughter at what he had said. Leaning over the wall which separated them he calmly said to her face ‘God you are ugly’ and then walked away. He had no further problems from that day forth. Now I wouldn’t advocate being verbally abusive to anyone but I had to admit he had made his hard life a lot easier with just a few words.
Looks like I will be busy between now (as I write) and Christmas but I am not surprised by that, it happens each year. That doesn’t mean I will be working myself to the bone, just doing what I feel is enough. Today is Monday and already I have done two jobs with another three scheduled for other days this week. I went to a house in a tiny village in the countryside some ten miles north of my own town. The lady had asked me to check out a light unit and to see if it was possible to move a power outlet in one of the bedrooms. I had the light checked and secured within a few minutes then proceeded upstairs to the bedroom. The outlet could be moved up the wall without too much of a problem but it would require that the wall be chiselled out for the new box. She agreed that I should do it.
At this point I want to change the subject for a moment or two. I don’t watch a tremendous amount of television and often as not if the set is on I am only listening and not watching. Some programs I enjoy watching and some of those include reports about police encounters with offenders, problems with landlords and their tenants and ‘neighbours from hell‘ to coin a phrase.
I have had little personal experience of such things as most folk don’t which is just as well. However, returning to my installing the power outlet in a new position I had to use a hammer and chisel to hack out the brick wall. The lady passed no comment until we both heard reciprocal banging on her neighbours adjoining wall. Evidently the sound of my banging was resonating through to her attached property even though there were intervening rooms. Then the lady told me about her ‘neighbour from hell’. They had been at loggerheads for a few years and hadn’t settled their differences. The lady apologised for not having informed me before the work started. I suggested I call next door to apologise for the noise but she thought I shouldn’t. I went anyway and spoke with the disgruntled neighbour and apologised for having disturbed her peace. Without going into great detail I could see her point of view in her relationship with her neighbour, the lady I was working for. In situations like these one has to be extremely diplomatic and not take sides which might make matters worse. I was very diplomatic and assured the woman I had very little more banging to do but that I would keep it as short and as quiet as I could. In total the noise only lasted about eight minutes anyway. I felt sorry for them both that they hadn’t been able to resolve their differences and be good neighbours to each other. I finished the work and popped into the lady’s other neighbours home to fix a faulty light in her bathroom. I wasn’t going to levy a charge for it was a simple repair which had only taken a mere five minutes to do but she insisted on paying me something. It was now fast approaching lunchtime and time for me to return home.
I very seldom if ever write about my personal relationships in my posts though I have been more open in my personal pages above regarding such things. It is hard for me to do so now. Life can be so difficult at times. Stressful situations, personal relationships, financial problems, poor health, irritating neighbours and many more can all have a detrimental effect upon us. As a Christian I am called to rise above these things yet I may still have to deal with them, in fact being a Christian does not mean I will never be affected by them or that they will somehow magically disappear, they won’t. Our difficulties arise when we don’t know how to deal with them. Fellow Christians will say things like, ‘Trust in The Lord’, ‘Lay all your burdens at His feet’, and they would be quite right but we have to meet Him half-way. We have to do our bit too. If we approach things in the right way and trust in The Lord’s guidance we will overcome. Sometimes though no matter what we do it doesn’t seem to work, at least as we thought it should and that is the point, not everything is going to work out the way we want it or expect it to do. Good friends give good advice. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Some people will never change’, yet we often continue attempting to persuade them. This has been especially true in my own situation. My ex, ‘E’, is a prime example. Over the years (forty-four) I have known her she has been stubborn. We used to go to church together at one point but her heart wasn’t in it. She always blamed her mom for ‘forcing’ her to attend church when younger and that is why she says she doesn’t believe in God. Many times I have witnessed to her but the main way was by example, showing love, being tolerant and understanding and not putting her under pressure. Nothing worked and still doesn’t. I have to live with her and it can be so difficult. I could have left her, deserted her and left her to her own devices but because of my love and concern I persevered. I still persevere and will continue to do so until I die though she may never change. Aside from her beliefs just living together is sometimes problematical for me as I am very often not treated well by her even though I treat her with love and respect and we end up not speaking. Usually it is because of her stubborn refusal to apologise for her behaviour toward me when she is in the wrong. My friend tries to cheer me up and she tells me not to let E’s behaviour affect my own peace and happiness but that is so hard to do. I get knocked down but I get up again and again and again. I refuse to give in to her bad behaviour yet I have to forgive her. I always forgive her but it never seems to have any effect. Sometimes I feel at my wit’s end wondering if things between us will always be this way. Unless you live with a person like E you will never really know what it is like. Leaving her isn’t an option, she needs more love.
I can safely say this, that I have spent more than half of my life as an atheist for I am not yet 86 years of age! I became a Christian in February of 1989 but my search for God really started the previous summer. All this is recorded in my pages above. As a child my life centred around myself and my family, I had no friends other than one boy who for some reason always watched my back and that was probably because I needed it. I was a timid child and often bullied and I suppose that was a probable cause for me to be wary of people. I grew into adulthood without any friends. It was only during my short courtship and for a year or so after that I had friends of any kind though none of them were close. My life again became centred around my spouse and my family, that is our children as my siblings and even my parents I didn’t see that often. When I began to attend church things change a little and I enjoyed the company of like-minded people who were my brothers and sisters in Christ. I had found a new family and was involved in church life. I was happy but my home life wasn’t what it should have been. In simple terms my spouse began to lose interest in our marriage and our sex life ended. I was therefore now in a loveless relationship as far as the physical side was concerned. After a few years I found myself being sidelined in the church. Even though I was a member and had been for over nine years I began to feel unloved and left out of things. It was one of the reasons I left that fellowship and I swore I would never return. As a Christian I do understand that we have to overlook our brother’s and sister’s misgivings and forgive them. That I did and this is what I do else how can I expect my Father to forgive me? It doesn’t mean however that I have to endure the behaviour of others, brothers and sisters or not. When I tell other Christians of my experiences all I get from them is, try somewhere else. Well of course I could do that but I know nothing will basically change. The problem is partly due to myself, I will admit that much for I should perhaps be more tolerant, forgiving I am but tolerant I cannot handle sometimes. So it is that I no longer go to church and haven’t done so for sixteen years. I was at an old lady’s house late on Saturday morning. She is a Christian lady for whom I have worked a few times in the past. Each time I go there she asks if I am still not going to church. After doing the small electrical job for her we sat down with a cup of tea and chatted. She tried her best to convince me to pay her little fellowship a visit and perhaps bring along my guitar for they have no-one who can play an instrument. She once played the piano but told me she had problems with her fingers these days. I advised her to keep playing as it will help and she was inclined to agree. I learned that the fellowship consists of no more than twenty people all over the age of fifty. However their meeting is held some fifteen miles from my house toward Liverpool. I don’t want to be travelling that far just to be a part of a fellowship I would be reluctant to join anyway. Fellowship is not really the problem and neither is the distance, the real problem is the people. I love people and love being in company but I do not want close relationships with individuals or groups as might be the case in a church fellowship. I prefer to be with people on a one to one basis where I have the opportunity to witness to them. Their salvation is more important to me than their friendship. People are the reason therefore that I don’t have many friends for any ‘friends’ I had, such as they were, have long since deserted me. People let me down.
Tuesday was a very miserable day. The whole of this current week is forecasted as having poor weather, that is wet, windy and cold though not entirely cold. I had a couple of requests in the morning but they came to nothing and one of those nuisance calls most people are receiving these days regarding PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) claims. I was busy doing something on my computer when that call came in and I was caught off-guard thinking it might be a request for my electrical services. I glanced at the callers number and mistakenly thought it was someone living in the next town whose telephone prefix would be 01695 whereas in fact it was prefixed 0161. That prefix is for Manchester a city more than forty miles away and where I have no known contacts either for business or for personal reasons. It was the first three digits that threw me but I was not concentrating. A young girl began with a welcoming message and I had a little difficulty in stopping her as almost immediately I realised my error. I told her that I have never taken out a payment protection plan of any kind in the past and she then tried to persuade me otherwise. Too late! I had put down the receiver.
Most annoying are these cold calls but even more annoying that I should have been caught off-guard. What is particularly annoying is the fact that this company ( a law firm specialising in claims) thinks I have an outstanding claim of some sort. I haven’t. Where they get this information I am not sure but it only takes one error by someone who has not closed any case files and removed them from their system. As these companies exchange file data it means anything I have been involved in, even though it may have been resolved many years ago, is still on somebody’s books.
Although I had no electrical work to do on Tuesday I didn’t do any work at home either. Aside from the fact that we are still waiting for the delivery of a new cooker extractor hood which is holding back the kitchen project I really didn’t want to be working on anything anyway. Even working in the garden was not an option because of the lousy weather. My heart wasn’t in it and that is because my relationship with E has turned a little sour once again. It is a sad affair that keeps rearing its ugly head every now and then. I guess I should have left years ago but I know I would have suffered more had I done so. I am not the sort of person who gives up in the face of difficulty and besides which I love E dearly.
I have not been enjoying the best of health lately due to the problems I have been experiencing with mouth abscesses and toothache. I have been feeling run-down and according to my dentist it was probably due to my condition. The feelings are similar to those of ‘flu. Nevertheless I have soldiered on as best I can and it got better as the days passed by. I write this on Friday evening after a day feeling weary from working in the morning and having to endure the pain of toothache. Until the antibiotics complete their work I shan’t be free of pain completely so I have resorted to taking paracetamol tablets for the time being though I try not to take medications if I can avoid it. Sometimes the pain is too great though isn’t it? I took E out to a late lunch in our local pub and had a lovely time together chatting about this and that. I love company and being able to speak to others but over the last few months I have not had that privilege except at work. We drove to the vehicle service station later to have that exhaust box fitted that I mentioned in my previous post. We had a great time there too! E and I hadn’t been talking for some time but we finally sorted out the problems between us. It is hard not speaking to someone you love and have been with for over forty years. Anyway life is now looking good again and already we are planning to work together on the patio project, the construction of the flowerbed. E is limited in what she can do to assist but I know she will want to render that assistance anyway. Just the fact that she will be there will be an encouragement. According to the weather forecast for the next four days we expect dry and sunny days, ideal for setting concrete and laying bricks. I hope I don’t overdo things, I am sure I won’t and hopefully I will be as right as rain again soon. I felt better than I did yesterday.
Wednesday afternoon and it is raining. The day started very bright and sunny and remained that way until a little before eleven o’clock. It was expected though and somewhat welcomed by myself. I sat out on the patio after breakfast with a cup of coffee and something to read, actually my Bible. Yes, I am reading it through yet again after finishing reading it through a couple of months ago. I am now about to read the Book of Numbers. This is not however the subject of my post. I sat out there for quite some time before returning indoors as it was starting to get noticeably cooler once the clouds rolled in. I spent the rest of the day indoors though I could have gone for a walk if only to relieve the boredom. I had no electrical work and nothing I wanted to do inside the house even though there are things I could be doing. My heart simply wasn’t in it. I occupied my time cooking, playing guitar, doing things on my computer like writing this post, watching a little television and reading and general household chores. Although I am very domesticated life spent totally at home would bore the socks off me! It was nice to look out at the rain whilst knowing that I didn’t have to go out in it. It was raining outside but it has been raining inside too, inside my heart. My personal life has been upset because the relationship I have with E is not what it was. For so long I have been taken for granted, shown little respect on occasion and often ignored. We haven’t spoken since the start of February because I reached a breaking point after once more being snapped at. Many times I have been badly treated but made the effort to heal the rift and forgive. I always forgive but that doesn’t mean I have to put up with ill-treatment and so I had to back-off. How long it will take before E repents and apologises for her behaviour is not known but I wait patiently. I like the rain but that falling in my heart takes a little more getting used to. I am discovering though that I am getting used to it, I don’t really have a choice.
Now I don’t usually work on a Sunday unless someone has an emergency of sorts but late on Sunday morning a lady called me to ask if I could help her with an electrical problem that continued to trip out the lighting supply. At that stage the remainder of the household installation was unaffected but a possible leakage current on the lighting circuit could change that situation. Evidently a lamp had broken in its holder which left its metal base firmly stuck. Furthermore the lighting switch didn’t seem to be working properly either. I told her how to remove the broken lamp base safely which she did but the faulty switch still needed replacing. I would have to go there, replace it and check everything was in order if she agreed. She asked that I should go but that she was just about to go to work. She works as a nurse at the local hospital. However I could go there at two o’clock when a neighbour would be there to let me in (and pay me). I agreed and she thanked me, going on to say that she was new to domestic problems such as these as her husband usually took care of them. It seems her husband had recently left her and the two children of ten and twelve years, though when I called they were both with their father at his house wherever that was. She was the third woman in the last few days, in fact since last Monday, to have told me that her husband had absconded. It seems to be a regular thing hereabouts for over the last couple of years I have come across quite a number of women in the same situation, four of them in this month alone! A sign of the times I suppose. Had the lady been at home when I called she might have told me the reason for their separation as many of them do. Perhaps it helps them to cope with the situation when they can speak about it with others. It is such a shame nevertheless. I did her job in about ten minutes and was back home within the hour. I am wondering just how many more women are going to call me for help because their husbands have left the home. The neighbour was an elderly gentleman who was quite surprised to see a female electrician attend to the job and he told me that he and the lady I had been working for would be adding me to their list of people to call when they want a job doing. That was nice.
In my home life I am between a rock and a hard place and my face is up against the wall. Sometimes I feel like bashing my head on that wall too out of sheer frustration. It is all to do with my ex who is completely indifferent to what is going on between us. I shall say no more on the subject save to say that I am fed up with it all. Speaking about having my face up against the wall, that has been exactly the case these last three days (I write this on Tuesday). All the electrical work I have had at each of the three separate locations I have worked in all involved wall lights, either re-fixing them to the wall or in some cases repairing them beforehand too. I am not complaining. I was paid well for my efforts. The first house I visited on Monday morning was in response to a call from an old lady of 83 who didn’t know where to begin in explaining the problems she wanted me to help solve for her. After a few minutes I managed to get her to tell me her address so that I could pay her a visit. Her house is located about 8 miles away in the township where I once lived. She was actually waiting at her front door for my arrival and when I approached the door she was overjoyed. She reached out her hand to take mine and gently squeezed it like I was a long-lost friend. She was so excited that I was there and she took some time to settle down. She insisted I sit down and have a coffee, which I did, and she began to tell me about her problems. Nothing was said about the electrical work. She explained the problem she was having trying to clear away and remove what must have been tons of paper in the form of magazines, newspapers, files and other things from her house. Coupled with that she had other things to remove too. All this material had been collected by her husband who had hoarded it in their home. Now that was only part of the story. She and her husband had been married for 60 years but it seems that he had recently decided to become a recluse in his own home, locking himself in the front lounge with its curtains drawn closed, a gas fire and lights left on during the day. All he did each day was to sit in the room reading or watching television. He refused to help his wife and wanted no part or showed no interest in her at all or what she was going through. She really needs professional help, they need professional help for something had gone drastically wrong between them. She however was the one suffering. He was completely disinterested. I met him not long after I had completed the work I had done there and he came across as a completely normal and level-headed person. He had only left the room in order to visit the toilet and after speaking with me he returned to the room and closed the door behind him. The work I was doing involved re-fixing walls lights and making the connections safe. One set of lights had to be disconnected for the old rubber insulation on the wiring had perished. It was wired in metal tubing and could not be accessed. I disconnected the wiring behind the control switches and cut it out so that it could never be used again. Other wiring behind those switches was PVC coated so it appears the rubber wiring was not replaced when last the wiring had been replaced. It took me some time to get away from the house once the work had been done for the lady was reluctant for me to leave. The second job was on Monday afternoon and that too involved wall lights, old wall lights that needed repairing and re-fixing to the walls. The lady in that house was a widow for whom I had worked on previous occasions and who for some reason has taken to me. On Tuesday morning I had yet another job involving faulty and loose wall lights in an apartment on the other side of town. That too was a lady who simply wanted a female electrician rather than have a man do it for in her words, they just don’t turn up! So I don’t mind working on wall lights, the work pays just as well and I am used to being up against the wall.