Thursday, April 02, 2009

Defining Moments

Certain events in your life change you forever. Life is never the same again. They are like pivots that turn everything around and make your future life different. It’s easy to forget their impact.

I suppose the first major life changing event for me was in June 1966. I was 10. My mum and I were church going Anglicans. She went to Sunday services and I to the Sunday School. It was not a particularly high church, no smells and bells. It was an ordinary ceremony based liturgy, the old 1611 hymn book was used and the King James bible. For my mum is was comfort for the loss of my brother who tragically died before I was born. She turned to church to seek for some sense from it all I guess.

In 1964, the old vicar left. The Rev. Stoneley was retiring to the Lake District. He was the vicar in the parish from the 1940’s I think. He always seemed gruff and unapproachable to me. He and his wife never had children so maybe they didn’t know how to relate. I only ever remember him being in our home once and was scared of him.

His replacement was so different. He had five children of his own and two adopted. Peter and Lois were slightly older and younger than me respectively. His wife was also a good speaker and the whole life of the church was transformed. We began to sing things that were not Ancient and Modern and were trained to memorise the Bible. I felt there was life in church which was not there before.

One Tuesday night in June 1966 my mum told me we were going on a coach to a theatre in Liverpool to hear someone called Billy Graham. He was holding meetings in Earl’s Court London that were being relayed to cinemas and theatres all over the country. I remember several of my school mates being with me. We sat together and my mum and her friends sat in another part of the theatre. I don’t remember much of the broadcast, I was only ten. I do remember his appeal to get saved, to be born again. In a moment, even at the age of ten, I knew God was asking me to seek His forgiveness and ask for salvation. I can remember realising that sin was in my life cutting me off from knowing God. I knew about Him but no personal relationship. I responded to the appeal to go forward to the front to receive prayer to become a true Christian. Trusting God not church or creed but Christ alone for that gift. Some of my friends joined me and I also saw my mother was standing along the line too. It was a life changing moment. I knew when I left that place that Christ was my saviour and friend. I was different, never to be the same.

From that moment on what I would do with my life changed. I did struggle with faith and have done in different periods of my life but whenever I moved away from God I found Him ready to receive me back when I came looking. I learned in the (almost) forty-three years since that night that this life with God is so rewarding. Not always easy, not without suffering or pain but worth working through those times to receive the reward that suffering brings which is character.

There’s a verse in the Bible that is one of my favourites, it’s not an obvious one but has great meaning for me..

2 Timothy 2:13...

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, He cannot deny Himself”

God has proved His faithfulness to me. I cannot deny Him because of that. As a young man I could never understand why older people talked so much of faithfulness. As I have got older I realise it’s because God keeps on proving Himself faithful more and more. It is a precious thing.

Remind yourself of the defining moments of your life. Trust Him to continue to work faithfully in your life. He’s a great and faithful friend.