We're having some work on our house which has required the erection of the most impressive scaffolding in Chessington. It was done over three days by some hard working Romanians and a lovely Irishman called Joe.
Joe and I hit it off when he I told him that I had played a little rugby at London Irish. This brought forth from him a warm sentence that contained every expletive that I know and a few that I didn't. It was just like being back on the rugby pitch. Before becoming a Christian I was congratulated by one man on the worst language he had ever heard from a vicar's son. He was sitting in the tenth row of the stand! It will be interesting to see what words are acceptable amongst Christians in 10 years time. What is deemed "...obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking..." (Ephesians 5:4) is inevitably fluid, depending on the norms on the culture you live in. But that's a blog for another day, back to Joe.
Joe loves life and people. Maybe that's because he's Irish! He charmed my wife with his winsome and jovial obscenities. He told her of his son (little Joe) who is clearly dearly loved. And when it came to our four year old...I think that Tomos wants a family transfer. Joe got him to help him attach cable ties to steel poles. He brought him sweets from Lidl. He even insisted on leaving him £5 because he hadn't managed to buy him sweets on his last day. A fiver that Tomos' far less generous and less fun loving parents are very likely to "borrow".
Just before he left I gave Joe a little booklet about Jesus. I said that he had been using his name a lot of the time so it would be good to read a bit about him. Joe said he was a catholic, so he knew all about Jesus. I suggested the booklet might clear a few things up.
What struck me as Joe drove away, waving frantically to Tomos from the lorry window, was how this man had blessed us as a family. How he had set out to do good to us. How his warmth and fun and concern (nothing was too much trouble) had made each day he was around a little bit better.
I was convicted that a lot of the time I'm not exactly the life and soul of the party at home.
Paul says is Philippians 4:4-5:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."
I have so much more to rejoice in than Joe, because I know the grace of God to me in my Lord Jesus Christ. That I am loved with an everlasting, sin conquering, death defeating love. A love that should bring joy and gentleness. A love that should make my presence a blessing to others, at least as much as Joe. But without the swear words!