“I was twenty-eight years old. I had merely lived, and been given so many opportunities to prepare me for this journey through life, to learn ‘to be’. Seemingly, I was ready to embark on the fulfilling plan God had for my future.
I had the growing awareness of my single-mindedness to fulfil a role in which I could be a true servant of God. I felt vaguely that I would like to commit to the ministry.
I had not considered marriage in a really serious way. So, though I had many friends and suitors along the way and enjoyed and appreciated the wide-ranging company I met, yet I wanted to be sure everything fitted before commitment. So I had never met my future husband.
Then, as I ponder on it, I had never prayed for a husband or considered marriage as part of my fulfilment and role in life with deep thought. I knew I wanted to serve God, “for faith without works is dead.” I knew I was an unworthy servant with little to offer. I also had a deep sense of gratitude for God’s overflowing love for me and found it easy to share and give. “Freely, freely you have received; freely, freely give.” I realised in sharing and working together, we could serve so many more people in a caring way. So the Christian life is not about what we do to serve Him but how to receive from Him. The vital importance of sharing with a partner in life was very clear. Our own ego has to die so that we can serve our partner and his work for the greater good. Marriage was the way forward for me.
It was my mother and sister who began to urge me to consider thinking of marriage and be ready for it. In fact, as I listened harder, I remembered remarks: “She’d make a lovely Minister’s wife!” My pupils at the grammar school were match-making for me! I was being urged to pray more earnestly about this and move forward. As I listened and obeyed, the door was about to swing open and I was to be certain of whom my future husband was to be and fulfil the purposes and plans God had for my life within the year!
At the end of the autumn term, I was getting ready to drive home in my A35, “my VUV”, as I called my trusty steed, when I realised I had failed to contact a warm friend I had met on a holiday in Switzerland. She had invited me to a meal and then to the Ilkeston Central, her church, which had a congregation of two hundred members and was usually packed.
So on a Sunday in November, I went to tea with Nina and her sister. It was so enjoyable; then we went on to Central Methodist to hear her Minister, Eddie Smith. I felt warm towards his preaching but, as he was surrounded by masses of members after the sermon, I thought I’d leave exchanges for another time.
Going out to my car, I found it would not start! So I appealed to Nina. I needed to call the
AA. She invited me back to the Minister’s office to phone and wait. I perused his bookshelves and felt some of his library would be very useful for A level students and considered asking if I could borrow a few! Enter the engaging, smiling young Minister. The rest is HISTORY!
Then there was a sequel. My Sixth Form invited Eddie, the Minister, to speak at the grammar school. Afterwards, I invited him for a cup of tea which he accepted with delight. I really meant a cup of tea because I wasn’t used to entertaining young men in my digs. When he arrived, he had other ideas. “Where’s the real tea?” And he scrambled some eggs on toast for us both!
The following term, Eddie Smith took his opportunities and a courtship began that was natural and easy.
My really happy time at Spondon Park was drawing to a natural close as my future path was set for the next fifty years.”
– Marina wrote this for her Grandchildren in 2015