Blue Flax and God’s Providence

I’m so glad God created the blue flax flower – maybe my life depended on it ….. and a few mishaps along the way!

In 1855 an Englishman left the lid off his paint tin and the linseed oil, produced by crushing the seeds from the flax flower, oxidised leaving a solid layer on top of the paint. This discovery led him to develop linoleum from the Latin for flax (linum) and oil (oleum).

When he failed to trademark his product correctly, Michael Nairn, the Scottish entrepreneur, stole the name and turned his floor cloth factory into a linoleum works. Soon my home town, Kirkcaldy, had seven factories employing 4000 people and became famous as ‘the town that floored the world’.

After the war, my parents both worked for Barry Ostlere and Shepherd Ltd, the main rival to Nairns. Romance began when my father, a joiner, was sent to the typing pool to mend Mum’s chair. Only Dad’s older brother was given the opportunity of further education, and Dad had rather reluctantly become Grandad’s apprentice. Mum was always trying and failing to lose weight, but maybe had she been skinny, she wouldn’t have broken her chair, and never married my dad! When my brother Barry was little, my parents didn’t want to have another baby so soon. Of course, they got used to the idea, but I wasn’t exactly planned …. except in the heart of my Heavenly Father (Ps.139:14).

This weekend I was sharing thoughts from Psalm 139 with a group of women, and was struck again by the awesomeness of God and his ways! We struggle to hold the mystery of God’s sovereignty together with our free will and responsibility, but they’re really two sides of the same coin. God’s ultimate authority and power give me great security and confidence; not like fate that makes folk passive. Our decisions and choices really are important, but without belief in God’s sovereignty I would be paralysed to take action in fear of making mistakes. It’s a great relief to know God isn’t taken by surprise when we get it wrong, and never has to play catch up. Rather, knowing us inside out, our motivations, thoughts, words and habits, he still lovingly allows us to partner with him, and this should make us brave to live for him, because he really does work all things together for his good purposes. His complete knowledge and constant presence with us should motivate us to co-labour with him and pray fervently,

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting (Ps139:23)!

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