It’s the World Cup and kick-off for England in half an hour or so, and I’ve just watched a few seconds of newsreel from the 1966 final, when England won against Germany. Yep, England won. As in ‘the whole championship’. Hard to believe, eh?
Everyone in Catterick was glued to the telly. Well, everyone except me. As the youngest member of 150 Provost Company (Royal Military Police) at 17 years of age, barely out out of convent school, I was the obvious sucker to be not only on duty on the day of the match, but the only person parked firmly on the duty desk all through the match. I could hear the men cheering and shouting and stamping upstairs in the Orderly Room as they watched the black and white set hastily brought down from the Sergeant’s Mess. I remember gazing out of the window from my high desk (like the custody desk in a police station) and seeing a deserted roadway, not another soul. Just me.
And then massive cheers, doors slamming, feet thundering down the stairs, whoops and back slapping, laughter that wouldn’t stop, re-playing every move… happy men singing ‘Two World Wars and One World Cup’. Two world wars and one World Cup! Of course that was when Europeans were ‘over there’ and we wanted nowt to do with any of them.
Ah, those happy non PC days.
Anyway, enough of all that – the woman writing this is a very happy woman and I wouldn’t go back to my youth for a million pounds. Or a billion. I’ve been preoccupied thinking about the love of God for the last few days, sort of ‘captured’ by the thought of it, and then last night in a sermon we were reminded again about the fabulous fullness, the abundance of His love. And I remember that I was similarly captured a year or so ago, when we looked at 1 John 3 ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!’
I have a pal who always signs her letters and notes and gifts with ‘BIG love’. I like that.
I like being lavished with love. It’s how I know that Jesus is alive, that God is real, that my faith is not foolish. I never knew how to receive love until I knew Him. I’m not saying ‘poor me, I wasn’t loved’, I’m saying I didn’t know how to accept and understand love. I was too wrapped up in myself, self-protective, to welcome love. Love makes us vulnerable and I didn’t want to be that. I was too prickly and defensive for all that lovey-dovey stuff. I knew that when love was offered it lasted for only a little while and then was taken away. I never dreamed that I could be loved as God loves, eternally, unconditionally, sacrificially, completely, steadfastly. His love is palpable. I can feel it. I can. He has brought something so real, and present, and effective into my life that I cannot doubt His reality. I know, at the great old age of ninety-seven and a quarter that I am loved. (aren’t women supposed to lie about their age?)
My joy is bittersweet, knowing this depth of love while millions are lost, fighting despair and hopelessness. These are the paradoxes that non-believers find so difficult to comprehend; that we can feel unquenchable joy but abiding grief, complete confidence in God alongside deep humility, accepting that we are totally undeserving, but knowing that we are accepted and saved, confessing that we are full of sin, but knowing that God has made us holy.
How to explain it? How to explain it? I feel my heart wrung out as I try to find the words. There are none. Only the Word. The Word, the Bible, the grace of God. Not the words of Luce.
So, deep breath. Re-centre.
Hey – my radio play has its cast complete! Next Wednesday and Thursday we will be in a studio, with Kevin Whately and Doon MacKichan, my dream casting. I LOVE radio. You get the actors you want, simply because they too love radio. The pay is rubbish for everyone, but the work for them and for me, is fab. Can’t wait. Just can’t wait.
It’s a couple of years since I saw Kevin and I miss him sorely. He kept me going when my husband died so very very suddenly. Somehow he understood that the grief was overshadowed by total shock, that I was numb, and that all I could do was go through the motions of living a normal life, work and work and work. I had a 14 year old child, a more than full time job, 70 people who were relying on me to keep churning out the scripts…. We were filming the first series of Peak Practice, around Cromford and Matlock, and I would be at my desk in Derby, thumping away in my heavy fisted way, when I’d hear a knock on the front door. There stood Kevin, saying he had a couple of hours before he was in his next scene, so we’d pile into the car and head off to a real ale pub in the city centre, and suddenly the day would not be so lonely, the gaping hole in my life somehow manageable. He still phones before he goes into the work-tunnel of a series or a shoot… and again when he emerges at the other end,….. and he simply says ‘Hey, Luce, it’s Kev, how are you doing?’ and it’s lovely, lovely, lovely to hear his voice. But it reminds me to miss him and my friends in England, my pals in telly, my old crew in Derby. The life I used to have. There you go! Another paradox! I can sorely miss the old life and at the very same time dearly love this one. The human heart is weird.
I remember one day, in the pub, just down the road from the industrial area of Derby, the place was heaving with men coming off shift and Kevin and me were squeezed in the corner. As a shaft of light fell across his face I almost choked on my drink – Kev was still in full telly make-up! Blushed cheeks, powder to stop any shine, etc. in a real ale pub in Station Road Derby….. But no one cared, everyone knew him from Auf Wiedersehen Pet, and he could do no wrong. As far as I’m concerned, he still can’t!
So. There you go. Lost in a football match 52 years ago, and a pub in Derby 25 years ago, and God’s love right here and now. Living in three dimensions in one blog, remembering and marvelling that God loves me, even me, and that He was there all through the hardest of times and the good times, and that He’s brought me here, to the very best of times.
And He will bring you through the best and the worst of times. He loves you, whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whatever you’ve done. His love is there, for you.