The other day we had a Celebration of the life of my late wife, Jenny.

"Now this hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts" Romans 5:5

As I mentioned before when I wrote the original 'God is Good' article we had no intention of creating this 'God is Good' series, which is a poor attempt to record part of our last few weeks together.

However, having got this far I think its only proper to include, below, the notes for what I said at the celebration.
If you would like to hear a recording of the event please contact me to request the relevant link (when available).

God has been good to us. Today I find myself a situation I don’t want to be in but looking at Jenny’s medical record from 15 years ago gave me an indication of what Jenny has been spared. We don’t understand the plan and misread the signposts, but we trust the planner – as the old song said “with God things don’t just happen everything by Him is planned”.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that Jenny and I had an arranged marriage – Father God arranged it.
He gave me a wonderful wife, who I did not deserve.
She gave me 2 wonderful sons.

I met Jenny through work. We started at the same place about the same time, first saw each other on an induction day, met up with other Christians for lunch and sometimes caught bus and walked together to work.

Jenny told me later that when praying about her future she felt Father God tell her there was someone at work who would be very significant – years later she found out that that was me!

I had made myself 'church-less' and Father God had impressed on me the need to be consistent and regular in visiting certain churches. Father God  engineered situations to take me to the same church as Jenny - although I don’t recall Jenny encouraging me in that direction.

The ‘wow’ moment for me was when one day, some years later, I met Jenny in the foyer of Watford Town Hall. I had been persuaded by friends to go with them to a meeting there where a certain travelling evangelist was preaching. For part of the time I had been wandering around Cassiobury Park. On return I met Jenny and discovered that she had organised the event – I was impressed!

Jenny had moved to Leeds then came to Potters Bar to be with her mother who was dying. She stayed with mutual friends during that time. When Jenny left them I had just made myself homeless and our friends, with an eye on having a wealthier lodger, descended on me with an offer of a room.

Jenny was a regular visitor to the house during my stay. However, we were both heading off in different directions. One day a friend grabbed me to say “time is running out, you’ll never get another chance to ask her out”.

So we had a few weeks of baby-sitting together, meals out and a holiday in Scotland before getting engaged. Her family did not know what had hit them – they had given up on the idea of Jenny ever getting married!

While on holiday in Scotland Jenny nervously raised the matter of finances – she was broke! She had nothing to offer except herself – well that was good enough for me!

Jenny’s earlier nickname of ‘the late Jenny Baines’ took on a new meaning, although that was often a cause of marital stress.

We lived in Watford for a time and then one day at church looked at each other and said ‘we are moving to Potters Bar’! Jenny made herself part of the ‘Potters Bar scene’ with school and church connections, although we returned to our original church which was now based in Enfield.

Jenny was a woman of prayer – which became more obvious observing her in her final months.

On a number of occasions I worked away from home – or might be more accurate to say I used work as an excuse for a cycling holiday. Jenny said she stopped feeling sorry for me being away when she joined me one weekend and found out where I stayed! Jenny found the years when our sons were leaving school and home the most difficult.

This event has been referred to as Jenny’s celebration, but I feel that is really a misnomer – it is really a celebration of Father God who has looked after us both, particularly over the last few months. We have seen his provision and miracles of timing which when they happen took our breath away. Or, like the other day, I realised there was something I would not have to deal with at this time because Father God had had it all in hand a few months ago (one of those earlier 'what is this all about? / I don't see the point' moments). Even on the afternoon of her death the friends mentioned above, who had moved away, 'by a fluke' happened to be passing... God is Good...

Many people have commented on our faith, as if we gain bonus points for it.
This is a misunderstanding, our faith is worthless, we have no faith to boast about.
We look to Father God, our provider, and He gives us a ‘gift of faith’.
It is a gift from Father God and nothing we can claim any credit for.

I can’t remember Jenny saying anything at church other than the occasional ‘organizational’ announcement. One Sunday last May, following what was to be her last Mt Vernon (cancer centre) visit for an outpatient appointment, Jenny took a microphone and said a few words which I referred to at the beginning of this series.

On that Sunday other people had earlier spoken about the tenderness and love of God.
His love for us and Him being a Father and Mother to us.

Jenny asked “where is that?”. Sometimes we feel like we are going into a Christian Supermarket with our trolleys looking for a book on that or a ministry on something else in order to deal with issues in our lives. But where is the tenderness and love of God?

Its about a relationship with Jesus, getting with Him and knowing His heart for us personally.
We know the future is in His hands.
We know He will work things out in His timing and in His wisdom.
But we start thinking “should we be doing any more…, going there…, reading this...”?
She said she felt like she wanted to cuddle up in Father God’s clothes like a little child.

About the same time, in May / June, I had a strong feeling I had to declare ‘God is Good’ for soon it would be too late.

The ‘God is Good’ theme has been going round in my head for some years having its seed in things said at a church I was once connected with when working away from home. We had some evenings looking at the scripture (Romans 12) which says ‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ - my initial reaction was bore, bore, yawn, yawn heard it all before. But then it goes on to say ‘that you may prove what is the good and perfect will of God’. Yeah – that’s just recognising the work of Jesus on the cross blah blah... Or is it? What about proving the good and perfect will of God in our everyday life? What about what I call ‘my cows on railway line miracle’ – just coincidence – really?

Over the last few months (and longer) we have seen God’s provision. No big bang miracle, but miracles of timing and God-incidences. He knows what good things we can be trusted with and what good things we can handle.

A famous prayer begins with the words ‘Father, in heaven’ (Matthew 6:9). The foundation is our relationship with Father God. St Paul wrote about knowing God as ‘abba’, or ‘daddy’ (Romans 8:15). However, it also describes His perspective ‘in heaven’ - he sees and knows things we do not, including things we are better off not knowing and questions we have to let go off. We may not understand the plan but we can trust the planner.

As Jenny said we sometimes ask ‘where is the tenderness and love of God?’ in our situation?

We have preconceived ideas of Father God’s provision and Father God’s plan. We use that as a test to determine whether ‘God is good’. We refuse to wait for Father God to bless us with situations only He could contrive. We refuse to wait for Father God’s orchestrated situations. We test God instead of testing to see if the 'good is god'.

Bill Johnson, has written a book with the title ‘God is Good’.
The Eden bookshop catalogue description reads...

These 3 words ‘God is Good’ are more than positive thinking, theological concept or Biblical statement.
What you believe about God's goodness reveals how you will respond to the trials and circumstances of everyday life.
Your view of God impacts everything!

See also ‘Unshakeable Trust’ by Joyce Meyer.

I was going to end there, but felt maybe the phrases What you believe and Your view of God, put the  emphasis in the wrong place.
Like the question Jenny asked “Should we being doing more?”. Instead I will close with the words of a song pointing to the love of God...

I will build my life, upon Your love.
It is a firm foundation.
I will put my trust, in You alone
Oh Lord, and I will not be shaken.

This, and other similarly themed articles, have been compiled into the 'God is Good Series'.