Whenever I joined a new ship the first question used to be “where are you from?” It was not a question I could answer easily. My birth certificate states that I was born in Stroud in Gloucestershire, but I have no memories of either Stroud or the village where we lived for the first two years of my life. I have a few memories of Plymouth where we lived next, but it is Guernsey in the Channel Islands that formed and forms the basis of my most treasured childhood memories. Unfortunately, and as much as I would like to be, I am not from Guernsey.
Towards the end of my time in Guernsey I remember one of the kids at school referring to me as English. That seemed strange. I knew who the English kids were. I just did not consider myself as one of them. Then we moved to England where the kids at school picked on me because of my Guernsey accent. So I quickly learned to speak like them. When I went to sea most of the people on my first ship were from Newcastle. They called me a cockney. So I quickly learned to speak like them. I did not want to be known as a cockney because it was cockneys who made my life a misery when we moved to England from Guernsey.
I have spent almost my entire married life (thirty-two years) in the same small country town in Herefordshire. But I am not from Herefordshire. I just happen to reside here at this point in time. Why? Because God placed me here and wants me here. My favourite Bible verse says:
‘From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.’ Acts 17:26 (NIV).
The past happened. I love to visit Guernsey. I’d even like to pop in and take a look at Stroud sometime. But where I live now is where my life takes place and this is where God wants me to be. What I do with and in my life in the present is more important than the past. The challenge as ever is that my life must be lived in recognition of where I am headed. At the end of the journey God is not going to ask me where I am from.