Me – in a church?
Up until ten years ago, wild horses, a herd of elephants and a pack of rabid rabbits couldn’t have dragged me out of my bed and into church on a Sunday morning. To me, religion was mind control, brain-washing. I thought God was a tyrant up in the sky somewhere. But I do remember thinking Jesus was okay. I’d watched Jesus of Nazareth on TV when I was a teenager. Robert Powell was cool, I liked his hair, he was a bit hippy. Yeah, Jesus was okay but his dad???
I had things sussed. I could look after myself, thanks. Those church people were weak. I didn’t need a God-shaped crutch, not me. So I drank a lot, I grew my hair, wore ridiculously tight trousers and dressed in black. Music was my thing, performing in bands, writing miserable, melancholy songs. Yes, I suffered for my art and made sure lots of other people suffered with me.
But then when I reached 40, I suddenly realised I was alone. My friends had moved away, I had a failed marriage behind me, I hadn’t found fame , fortune or fulfilment through music, my life was going nowhere and I was totally disconnected from the world around me. I’d tried doing life by myself and ended up on a daily diet of whisky and fish fingers, living in the spare room at my parent’s house, totally, utterly lost.
Looking back now, it’s so clear that we are on God’s radar even when He isn’t on ours. Once I realised I was sinking fast, then things started changing. By a series of apparently random events, I met and married the most amazing woman. She wasn’t a Christian but her sister was and I remember being envious of the friendships and sense of belonging that she found at church. I needed some of that, I needed to belong somewhere. And that’s how I ended up taking my family to the local church one Sunday. I thought I’d be hit by a bolt of lightning as I went through the doors but, amazingly, I emerged unzapped and with my brain still intact. The people there didn’t judge me, it was really….nice. So I went again the next week and again the week after. And slowly, over time, I began to find real peace in the worship songs and preaching. I started to experience that Spirit of Adoption that God offers us all. I was part of His family. He loved me unconditionally just where I was and just as I was, warts and all.
God showed me how amazing He was. My wife and daughter miraculously survived a road crash in the ice and snow. Then my daughter was saved from being sliced in two by a falling, heavy wooden desktop. This was supernatural stuff, this was incredible and exciting, this was God’s hands around me and my family. My faith went from an easy, floaty 10 to an on-fire 99 out of 100. I used to think that being a Christian was the most boring thing ever. I wish I could go back in time and tell the younger me that I was missing the greatest adventure of my life, full of surprises, challenges and mind-blowing moments.
I am far from perfect, I slip up A LOT. There are still big storms around me but I know that they are not inside me. I face challenges, I have to work hard to be a better person than I was yesterday but I know I am not alone: God is with me every step of the way.