A bit about us…
We are in our eighties and moved to Sonning Common from Herefordshire two years ago to be nearer one of our children. We have a son and two daughters and thirteen grandchildren, the oldest ones of which are either at university or have graduated. We are so glad to be living in such a beautiful area and are grateful to have very kind neighbours as well as friends in the area who we have known for many years.
How quickly the years fly by! The older we get the faster they seem to pass. COVID has created a lot of fear, not least in people of our age. Night after night we are confronted on the TV with the death toll. Few people like to talk about death but inevitably most of us sometimes think about it, especially at our age. And so we should – it is the unavoidable reality!
Is it a dead end? If not, what lies beyond it? Can we know?
Are we ready for it?
A look back at Margaret’s life…
‘My father was a pastor. Sometimes we children had to sit through a longish sermon! This no doubt switched some children off. But parents need not fear they are doing their children a disfavour taking them to church. One Sunday I listened to a visiting preacher. The speaker was encouraging the younger ones particularly to think about their plans and ambitions. When we grew old, were we going to be able to look back on our lives with satisfaction or with shame and regret?
From this time onwards I knew that God was speaking to me through the preaching of His Word – the Bible – and through the testimony of other people. I began to wonder if God was asking me to be an overseas missionary. In the following years I started to pray about this. I thought about nurse training and how useful that could be.
In due course I applied to the then Westminster Hospital on Millbank and was accepted. This led on to midwifery training in Bristol followed by theatre experience. I found all this hugely rewarding and enjoyable.
But I realised too that medical training could be made even more helpful on the ‘Mission Field’ – serving abroad telling people about Jesus at the same time as helping them with their physical needs. So, I went on to complete a Diploma in Theology.
However, God had other plans for me. I married Peter – we had been friends since our early teens – and became a pastor’s wife in this country. Years later, when our children had ‘left the nest,’ I was able to combine this with being a part-time practice nurse.’
A look back at Peter’s life…
‘My parents were committed Christians – by which I mean that their faith in the Lord, and their belief that the Bible is God’s inspired word were at the centre of their lives. However, as a boy, I came to realise that that did not make me a Christian. Some people’s stories of how they came to put their trust in Jesus are dramatic, and they can remember the exact date it happened. It wasn’t like that for me. But as a young teenager, listening to the preaching of the good news about Jesus, I came to realise that, like everyone else, I was guilty before God and needed Him to forgive me and change me. I knew that the Bible says that God would forgive me if I put my trust in His Son Jesus.
I remember kneeling by my bedside on several occasions and asking Him to rescue and accept me. And I believe He did. Later, I came to understand that it was God who brought me to that point, not my own good sense!
When I left school, I worked for ‘Boots’ and qualified as a Pharmacist. But 2 years of National Service in the Medical Corps, living in a barrack room and then the Sergeants’ mess, made me realise how much people in this country needed to hear the Good News about Jesus! I became convinced that He wanted me to be a preacher and pastor.
Over the following years, I served in a small Church alongside a job in Pharmacy and then spent nearly five years supporting student Christian Unions in colleges around the UK. Then I became the Pastor of a Church in St. Albans. This is where we stayed for the next 32 very happy and fulfilling years. Semi-retirement in Herefordshire, amongst other things, led to regular visits to Zambia to teach local pastors.’
A future hope….
Looking back, although there are many things we regret – things done badly, things which we should not have done at all and good things left undone – we can say that again and again, in good times and bad, God has proved His promises to us to be absolutely reliable and the teaching of the Bible so good and wise.
The brilliant Spanish golfer, Seb Ballestoros, died of cancer still in his prime. As he anticipated this he wrote: ‘You know, for everything in life there is always a beginning and there is always an end. This is the tough part, the most difficult thing, when you see that it is coming: the end’.
For everything in life there is always a beginning and there is always an end
Of course, in many ways he was right. But we are so thankful to be facing the last lap of our earthly lives with a great and wonderful hope. A hope which is not wishful thinking nor mere optimism. The best is yet to come. On the cross Jesus suffered the penalty all of us deserve because of our sinfulness. Through faith in Him we have been forgiven and put right with God. This is indeed amazing grace!
And Jesus’ physical resurrection is the guarantee that when He returns we too will be raised from the dead to inhabit a renewed and transformed universe. It will be perfect in every way: no suffering, no death, no disappointments, no wrongdoing, no hatred, no end!
So we are looking forward to a future which will far outshine for ever the best times we have ever enjoyed in this world!