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As I was pondering the whole theme of not despising the day of small beginnings, I could not help comparing the apparent insignificance of so many precious movements at their outset (the arrival of the first missionaries in new regions for instance) with the high profile trumpetings that have accompanied President Trump’s first few days in office. Jesus was certainly not shy in confronting the powers and conventions of His day either – but His mandate was the Kingdom of God and our salvation rather than to make Israel great again!

From there I found myself reflecting on how crucial certain steps that people have taken in the past have proved to be, and thought you might enjoy reading some of those I had in mind. May the Lord bless the steps we take . . a thought that fits well with the theme of the first article in this edition: the Daily Appointments we make with God.

Winston Churchill may be little more than an advertising slogan for an insurance firm for many people these days, but he was the man who led the nation at perhaps the most critical moment in its history, and who laboured so hard to pen and polish the talks that inspired the nation to keep going during the war.

Only those who have borne the weight of leadership can imagine the immensity of the burdens he bore as he faced the need to make continual choices. Virtually all warplanes had been scrapped at the end of the First World War, and Churchill’s own thinking at the time during the 1920s was that there would be no further war in Europe for many years. This changed completely after Hitler came to power in 1933.

The difficulty then was getting others to recognise the danger that the rapidly rearming Nazi regime posed to the world. Parliament preferred to believe German blandishments than to foresee the danger the secret development of the Luftwaffe would pose.

Churchill faced intense criticism in Parliament for being a scaremonger and a warmonger. Time has proved the wisdom of the costly stance he took — and the utter foolishness of his opponents.

He and Air Marshal Dowding later had to fight tooth and nail to provide the pilots with desperately needed bullet-proof windscreens. Remarkably, people claimed they were a complete waste of money and that the money should be spent on building more battleships!!

These windscreens saved the lives of many pilots and played a major part in winning the Battle of Britain.

Despite the many well publicised flaws and contradictions in Churchill’s personality, (he was often tetchy, dictatorial, and by no means above meddling where he should not have done) God knew that Churchill had those qualities of doggedness as well as the ability to inspire that would equip him to be a modern day “Cyrus” to save the nation. Dowding too, whose pioneering work made the RAF what it was, also got many things wrong.

A Folly that saved North West England

History has so much to teach us – I can’t resist sharing one more story of deliverance that came about because of someone’s foresight and determination. In 1957, soon after Windscale had been commissioned, Britain’s worst ever nuclear accident occurred. It could have been so much worse. A fire that engineers had declared ‘impossible’ occurred, and great clouds of life-threatening radioactive material would have escaped into the atmosphere, rendering North West England and the Lake District out of bounds for years to come, but for one man’s foresight. Sir John Cockcroft, the distinguished atomic scientist, had insisted on installing filters in the tower. He was heavily mocked and opposed for insisting on this, with the result that the filters became known as Cockcroft’s Folly. But when the catastrophe occurred, the ‘folly’ trapped 95% of the radiation and saved the day.

Praise God when the voice of foresight and reason prevails against prevailing opinion. Pray along these lines as the Lord leads.