Because Blog

Car crash

Have you ever been in a car accident? I have been in 2 in my life. Both bad ones.

In the first, I was an 11 year old passenger in an Austin Healey 100, sitting on the transmission tunnel, with my older brother, aged 17, in the passenger seat and my younger brother, aged 9, sitting on his lap. My older brother’s friend had been given the car by his parents as a present for passing his test. He was showing off, tried to beat a petrol tanker across a junction but didn’t make it. My two brothers were thrown out of the car with such force that they took the passenger door with them. My elder brother had a badly scarred leg for the rest of his life and scars on his back and side where he hit the road and slid along it. My younger brother was on top when they hit the road so he was shaken but unhurt, The rear wheels of the petrol tanker ran over his left arm leaving scars on that also. Thankfully, all of us survived.

My second crash was in Berlin in my army days. I was 21. Coming back from a night out driving my Opel Kapitan, I hit the back of a Mercedes 4 ½ ton truck that was coming out of a field. Had I not hit the truck, the car would have rolled, because in trying to avoid a collision I had caused the car to skid and we were on two wheels just before impact. Again thankfully,  me and my 3 passengers survived with no injuries except a few bumps and bruises. It turned out to be an army truck and there should have been a soldier in the road waving a red light in warning. But a minute earlier, he had nipped into the field to answer a call of nature.

In both accidents, all of us could easily have been seriously injured or even killed. Both accidents happened before seat belts became compulsory, in fact neither car even had them fitted.

So it is sobering to look back on those 2 car crashes and wonder, was our survival just luck or something more? In both cases, the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that God protected me and the other passengers.

I was not a Christian at the time, and being a Christian is no guarantee that you will sail through life unharmed. I know a believer who died in a car crash, others who died of cancer or other diseases when they were comparatively young. Why didn’t God protect them and keep them alive? If he is God, then surely he has the power to do so.

For some people such situations are enough to put them off Christianity because they have a wrong concept of God. They think he’s like a slot machine that you put your money in and always win.

So how about you? Have you been in a bad car crash or had a family member or close friend have a serious and potentially fatal illness? Did they die or survive? Do you think it is just a question of luck or is it possible they were protected in some way? Do you think death is the end or is there something beyond death? Does death – either your own death or that of a family member or friend – frighten you?

Maybe you have faced such a situation and you are asking yourself why? Or maybe your life is a car crash in the other sense of the phrase and you need help you can’t get anywhere else.

At some point in everyone’s life we all need to face life’s big questions for ourselves. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I know a God who does and I can point you in his direction. If you need that help, email me at the address below

Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be open to you. Matthew chapter 7, verse 7.

Keith Hartrick info@because.uk.com

Keith is an editor at Because

Faithful

 

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been advised by health ministers to limit sex to well established relationships. In other words, not to sleep around and not to have multiple partners.

It’s for practical reasons, of course, and not a question of returning to old-fashioned Christian morality. It’s about stopping the spread of the virus, not about the virtues of faithfulness and of the sanctity of marriage. 

But is it the cart before the horse?

Call me old-fashioned but maybe, if we had followed the original advice of Jesus and his followers, we’d be in a better place right now. Loving faithfulness is good, and, if we put that as a first principle in relationships, there’d be less transmission of communicable diseases and more harmony in society.

Let’s be faithful.

James Henderson info@because.uk.com

Living with a prayer plant

A few months ago, I received a lovely surprise: a plant through the post. I remember opening the cardboard box desperately trying to remember if I had recently ordered something! I unwrapped Maranta Leuconeura, also known as the Prayer Plant. The next day was quite traumatic: I discovered the leaves were in a serious droop. A quick check of my Prayer Plant found the soil to be moist, so it wasn’t due to a lack of water. A frantic search on the internet discovered that this was normal ‘behaviour’. During the day the leaves of Maranta Leuconeura droop downwards, but at night they lift up and even fold. To some this has looked like the closing of hands in prayer, which explains its common name.

However, I’m not too sure about that description. I guess it’s all about your perception of spiritual matters, as it seems to me that the ‘prayer’ happens the other way around. When my plant droops during the day, it looks like it is in the middle of humble supplication. As I received this gift during the UK Lockdown, it almost seemed as if the plant was interceding during the worst moments of the Covid-19 crisis.

My Prayer Plant reminds me of another gift; this time of a picture given to my Mum. It is a print of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane by Heinrich Hofmann. I need to be honest: I don’t like it. I don’t think it is my Mum’s cup of tea either, but it was gifted by a friend who passed away some years ago. The picture reminds Mum of her friend. Why don’t I like it? Well…it’s all a bit too nice. The picture shows a Jesus who is serenely praying, completely oblivious to all that is going on around him. One version of this event records Jesus as being in anguish.[1] Hoffmann’s depiction doesn’t feel real, that this really is a man coming to grips with the knowledge that he will soon be executed. Perhaps, again, it all comes down to my perception of spiritual matters. Do accept my apologies if you think Hofmann’s painting is a masterpiece!

Personally, I much prefer to study my prayer plant than to look at Hofmann’s painting. My drooping plant does look like it is wrestling with mighty issues in prayer, humbly looking to God for his action in a troubled world. It also gives me a picture of what Jesus may well have felt like in the Garden of Gethsemane. My plant gives me hope, because it reminds me that prayer can sometimes feel difficult; that there is too much on my mind, which I am struggling to express. Seeing Jesus troubled in the Garden of Gethsemane reminds me that God is not oblivious to the suffering of humanity. Though our troubled thoughts may overwhelm us, God is still on our side, listening to our anguished cries.

Sometimes, a low mood tempts me to ignore prayer. Thankfully, my prayer plant reminds me that my intercessions are not hindered by how I feel. Whether I droop in difficult supplication, or lift my arms in thankfulness, Maranta Leuconeura reminds me that all prayer is worth pursuing.

Ian Woodley info@because.uk.com

[1] The Gospel of Luke 22:44

The peace in your hands

Today, is a day of peace. The UN’s International Day of Peace, in fact. But what’s this got to do with you?

Established in 1945, after the near-total destruction of the civilised world, one of the UN’s fundamental purposes was to keep peace throughout the world – to stop conflict. Indeed, the UN General Assembly unanimously voted this 24-hour period to be one of “non-violence and cease-fire.” The agreement to lay down arms is certainly a way to peace.

But is true peace an external reality? Is real peace just no bullets or bombs?

‘Shaping Peace Together’ is this year’s theme. We are told to celebrate today by “spreading compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the pandemic”[1]. This is where peace can sometimes be ironic: enemies often unite when there’s a greater enemy! That’s the selfish nature of the beast. This year, the pandemic has meant politicians, nations and people who would not always be on each other’s Christmas card list have had to pull together for their collective prosperity and survival.

A common enemy has been one of the driving factors in last week’s historic Middle East peace deal. The significance of two Arab gulf states – the UAE and Bahrain – signing an agreement to normalise their relationships with the State of Israel cannot be overestimated. But the accord is one that helps protect all states against the major regional threat of Iran. Interestingly, the first direct flight from Israel to the UAE, symbolising this agreement, had the word “peace” written on the plane in English, Hebrew and Arabic. A moment Jared Kushner called, “A new script for a new Middle East.”

The promise of protection from an enemy and increased trade is a way to peace. But is there a more sustainable, lasting way to peace out there?

Maybe to achieve a true script for peace we first have to understand the script of war and conflict. I once read a script about the reason why war and conflict exist which suggested peace and war are in fact internal realities first and foremost. “Where do wars and fights come from among you?”, one biblical writer asks, “Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”[2] I can’t say I understand all this is getting at but to me it suggests real peace is more about the individual than the collective. More about the internal than the external. Less about agreements between governments and more about agreements with yourself.

This echoes a truth that almost all religions and philosophies understand, that war and peace begin from within each of us. And the human heart has a great deal of trouble gaining, and more importantly, maintaining that peace.

So how do we win the war in our members?

This is where the Hebrew word for peace “shalom” can help us. There is more to it than meets the eye. This word does not just mean the cessation of conflict but the internal wholeness and well-being of an individual. It is from this completeness and soundness of mind that peace can be cultivated. So where do we get this kind of shalom?

Hebrew was the language used to write the majority of the Bible. And it is from the theological development of these Scriptures that suggest that this special peace is offered by God, through a relationship with Jesus – he makes us a more complete, contented person. If you want to know more about this peace, then we’d love to hear from you.

Richard Fowler info@because.uk.com

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

[1] https://www.un.org/en/observances/international-day-peace

[2] The Bible, James 4:1-3

Faith, hope and love

In the UK, an influential parliamentary committee recently described one government department as drawing up immigration policies based on “anecdote, assumption and prejudice”.

If a committee were to look at your life, what would they find? What are the three principles that underpin your decisions and actions?

This is something the early Christian writer Paul, a follower of Jesus Christ, wrote about. His conclusion was that there were three guiding principles that should underpin our life: faith, hope and love. Faith in the goodness of God shown in Jesus, hope in his power to make all things right, and a love that overcomes all adversity.

As we face the challenges of life, choose to engage in faith, hope and love.

The greatest of these being love.

Gavin Henderson info@because.uk.com

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