"He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord ." Isaiah 2:4-5 NIV
It has been a couple of months since I have felt inspired to write a post, and I have been praying in the last few days for God to give me something to write about...well, since I am now writing this post, you can probably tell that God answered that prayer!
I was approached this morning by a man who I see most Wednesday mornings at our Communion service, but who I hadn't really spoken to before, and he told me an amazing story which I want to share with you all.
In 1939, St Martin's Church in Liskeard was appointed a Vicar called John Henry Parsons. Before becoming a Vicar, John would test drive and race Humber cars in Warickshire and he played Cricket for England. John was called away into the military quite soon after becoming Vicar of St Martin's, bringing back with him shell cases that he had made into Communion cups (these were more recently used as flower vases I believe, and have unfortunately disappeared).
During his time serving in the Great War, before joining St Martin's, John won a Military Cross for Gallantry for taking a Turkish Gun Emplacement (an armoured structure for holding weapons) following a Calvary charge and so winning the Turkish Officer's sword to whom he took captive.
Back in Liskeard, John took his 2 military swords to a local blacksmith (James Harry Pryn) and had them beaten into Ploughshares, which was a common concept in which military weapons were converted for peaceful civilian purposes.
The man I spoke to this morning remembers the field near the church where John had actually used his ploughshares to harvest wheat, which he then made into bread for Communion.
I found it so cool that this man who had seen such horrific things whilst serving in two wars would come home and use shells and swords from the war for the wine and bread of Communion.
It's such a wonderful example of using our situations and experiences, however bad, for God's Glory. Using things that were made for such a different purpose, for God's purpose.
I wonder how many people came to hear John preach at St Martin's, how many were saved through his sermons and work that he did here in the 1950's, and how many of those lifted those same shells to their lips to recieve Christ's blood that was shed for them, through a vessel that also had quite possibly shed blood in such different circumstances.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
God can work through the bad things in our lives to accomplish His purposes. He is always in control. He allows the good AND bad things to happen, and we can trust Him to work all things together for good in the lives of those who love Him. Like turning a weapon of war into a symbol of peace, He can (and will!) turn our lives and situations around, even when we are in our darkest and most helpless moments.
I hope that you find this story as encouraging as I have. I hope that you remember that God is faithful, and He will always turn your weaknesses into strength, your failures into wins, and he will turn your darkest times into light.
You can find out more about John Henry Parsons (though mostly about his cricket career) by clicking the link https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Parsons_(cricketer) .