My transition from the church in Belfast to Lurgan Church of The Nazarene has taken place and I make new friends and form new relationships much quicker than I expected. The newness of my life as a born again Christian is exciting, I am meeting new people, learning new things about God and also about myself. I still have many issues to work through but the Lord is kind and gracious as well as patient, which at age sixteen I was not.
Sometimes in life we have to pretend that we are something that we are not, I think there are times when most if not all of us have adorned our masks that portrays us as something or someone that we would like to be but in true reality are not. There were things about myself that I did not like, there were memories and things from my past that I was ashamed of. Guilt was a heavy burden that at times would break me emotionally.
That early morning on the 25/2/1975 when I gave my heart to Jesus I did not have any bright light spectacular experience like the Apostle Paul had but I did have a simple belief and peace in my heart that things were ok between me and my divine creator. I shared earlier that God spoke into my heart as I stood over my mother’s coffin as it was lowered into the grave and I knew that things were definitely not ok between me and God, but after my experience four days after the funeral I know that my fear of dying and going to a lost eternity were gone.
There is a wonderful verse in the book of Romans that says, “ 1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death”. (Romans 8:1-2)
My young Christian life was developing slowly but surely, bit by bit God was reshaping me into the person that he had created and designed me to be. To be honest I never looked at my life in that way before, I had not been aware that my creator had specific purposes and plans for my life. I don’t think it really ever occurred to me before that my God and creator craved a personal living relationship with me and that is why he sent his son Jesus to the cross.
There are so many stories running through my head just now of my early developing days that I am not sure what ones to tell first. There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. So with the help of my Saviour I will begin my stories step by step, page by page.
Sunday school story.
My Pastor encouraged me to become a Sunday school teacher; he said that I would learn more about God’s word by teaching it and by preparing to teach. At first I did not think this was such a good idea, I had refused to stand up and pass the offering plates around the church because I would get really embarrassed standing up in front of people. I did not like to feel vulnerable around people so I would try to keep as low a profile as possible. That debilitating fear of failure was still very much in control of most of my life.
Pastor Spence had a gentle way of talking you around into his way of thinking and soon after my strategic decline I found myself sitting in a class teaching four or five boys age ten to eleven, I was seventeen by now. I had books to work from but to be honest I would read them and then arrange the information in a way that made sense to me and I would attempt to teach that.
Things were going ok until one Sunday one of the boys would not stop messing about, no matter what I told him to do he would not listen, sounds a little familiar from my school days. Sorry former teachers. I did mention earlier that patience at that time was certainly not one of my virtues, I seem to have a built in patience trip switch, I can take so much for so long and then bang goes the trip. That is exactly what happened on that Sunday, the boy tripped my patience switch, I am not exactly sure about where this next quote comes from and I will never pretend to be an academic because I am not but I think it has something to do with physics. “For every action there is a reaction”.
Whether that that is accurate or not I am not sure but what is accurate was the point on this boy’s shin where my toe made the connection. It was not a brutal or forceful connection, from memory there was no bruise but it had the desired effect, he stopped messing about and listened. I think what tried my patience the most was the fact that I was telling him about God’s love for him and he was not interested.
After the class I thought nothing more about the incident until one day the Pastor informed me that this boys Grandfather had come to him complaining that I had kicked his Grandson when he was in Sunday school. I admitted it and was given some sound instructions and advice, I felt that I had failed God, this would not be the first or the last time I would have this feeling. My Pastor encouraged me to keep going and told me that I was young in my faith and that I probably would make mistakes from time to time. He was right, I did and still do make mistakes but I have and will keep going.