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Capt Sir Tom Moore - a reflection on a meaningful life

It struck me that we can learn some spiritual lessons from Captain Tom's life that will stand us in good stead for our own lives, writes Darren Blaney  

Capt Tom MooreLike so many people I was sad to learn of the passing of Capt. Sir Thomas Moore, known to everyone as Capt. Tom. As he was laid to rest over the weekend I am sure many of us paused for a moment to reflect on his amazing life, especially the last, dramatic 12 months. In that time he…

*Raised over £36 million for NHS Charities
*Became a Guinness World-Record Holder for the most money raised by a sponsored walk
*Had a UK #1 hit single, which in turn gave him…
*A second entry in the Guinness World Records, this time for being the oldest person to top the singles’ chart.
*Wrote his autobiography which became a Sunday Times #1 best-seller
*Was Knighted by the Queen
*Received over 10,000 cards from across the world for his 100th birthday
*Started the Capt. Tom Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping overcome loneliness in society.

As I reflected on all this, it struck me that we can learn some spiritual lessons from his life that will stand us in good stead for our own lives.

You’re Never Too Old to Be Used by God

Just think about how much Sir Tom achieved in his last year…and that at 99! Age is never a barrier to service as far as God is concerned.  The Bible is full of examples that teach this.   

Abraham was 99 when he had one of his most profound experiences with God. (Genesis 17 & 18) Nor was that the end of things; he had other experiences and adventures with God still further ahead (see for example, Gen 21v1-6).

Moses didn’t start his life’s work for God until he was 80!

It is all too easy to worship at the altar of children, young people and families. And to be fair, it is vital and right that we try to reach these people.

Yet we can subtly fall into the trap of believing that somehow older people are past it, that they’ve had their day, that they are in some ways yesterday’s people. Indeed a recent presentation by the South East Baptist Association claimed that ageism is now the most widely experienced form of discrimination in Europe. Thank goodness Capt. Tom didn’t believe that he was past it! And as God’s people, we shouldn’t either. 

When God Decides to Move, He Can Move Very Quickly

In January of 2020 no-one had heard of Capt. Tom, by the Summer of that year he was an internationally known, fund-raising record breaker. By the end of the year he was a Knight of the Realm and a best-selling author. Sometimes when things happen, they happen quickly, and this is especially true with God.

Consider Joseph in the Old Testament. He had had prophetic dreams of his family bowing down to him, yet his journey through life was one of being at the mercy of others--thrown into a well, sold into slavery, taken to a far country, falsely accused of a crime, thrown into a prison and left to rot there. Yet when God moved, He moved with speed and power -- Daniel went from Prison to Prime Minister in just one day! Never underestimate how quickly God can change your situation around when He decides to act.

Nothing is Ever Wasted in Life

Reading Capt. Tom’s story it is interesting to note how things in one stage of his life prepared him for things in later life. As a child he was fascinated with stripping down and repairing motorbike engines and with racing the bikes cross-country. When he joined the Army in WW2 and was sent to India, there was a major communications issue to be dealt with. Radio signals were unreliable because of the mountainous conditions and the Japanese would regularity break through the Allied lines in order to sever communication cables. So it was decided that motorcycle dispatch riders were the only solution.

Tom’s experience with cross-country riding made him an ideal choice for this task. When they discovered how good he was at it, they put him in charge of training others. Likewise, he continued his fascination with engines and began stripping down the engines on the tanks his unit worked with whenever they went wrong--and they frequently did. So good was he at this that he was sent back to England to train as a mechanic who could go back and train others. (Although the war ended before he was able to return to the front lines.) 

We find a similar thing with many of God’s servants in Scripture 

Moses spent 40 years learning to live in the wilderness and shepherd sheep there, which proved ideal preparation for shepherding the people of Israel through the wilderness for four decades.

David, while still a young lad said that learning to fight the bear and the lion as a shepherd was perfect preparation for fighting Goliath…and so it proved. 

The Apostle Paul’s background was as a Pharisee well-versed in the Torah and also as a tent-maker. Both proved useful in God’s plan to use him as a missionary. 

Nothing is ever wasted in God’s economy. What if some of these very painful things that we are going through at the moment are actually God’s preparation for us for something special He has planned 10 or even 20 years down the road? Seeds sowed in sorrow can lead to fruit harvested in joy. Remember Joseph’s words, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

He Did What He Could, Where He Was, With What He Had--And So Can We.

If you read his autobiography you’ll realise that the motto of Capt. Tom’s life was to muck in and make the best of any situation. As Dr John Maxwell says “Things tend to turn out best for those who make the best of how things turn out.” That thought is worth pondering over. It was that approach that got Tom through WW2, a very difficult first marriage, and a number of unfortunate set-backs in life and in work. It is also what inspired him to do his famous 100-lap sponsored walk in the garden.

We see the same thing in Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. Each servant is given something to put to work, and it seems that the Master’s expectation is that they will do what they can with it, to make the most of the investment that had been made in them. The only servant punished is the one who doesn’t “do what he can, where he is, with what he’s got” but instead - out of fear - buries his talent in the ground.

There is a wonderful little passage at the end of Judges 3, about Shamhar. “After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.”

That’s it; that’s all we’re told. He had an oxgoad. He struck down Philistines with it. He saved Israel. Capt. Tom had a walker. He raised millions of pounds. He gave hope to people. They did what they could, where they were, with what they had.

What’s In Your Hand?

Capt Tom is one of the heroes from this Covid pandemic.  As I reflect on his life he challenges me about what I can do to make a difference. It is all too easy to think that there is nothing I can do. Capt Tom gives the lie to that thought.  

When Moses questioned God about how he was going to get anyone to listen to him, God asked a simple question in reply. “What is that in your hand?” For Moses it was his staff, and it was to become an instrument of divine authority through which miracles were performed and a nation liberated. For Capt. Tom it was a walking frame, and it became an instrument of divine mercy through which miracles of a different sort were performed.
What’s in your hand? As we remember the good Capt. let’s learn from his example and do what we can, where we are, with what we’ve got. 

Image | DuncanC | Flickr | Creative Commons 

Darren Blaney is minister of Herne Bay Baptist Church 

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Baptist Times, 03/03/2021
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