It’s 10 years today since I became a Christian so I wanted to share this brief testimony of faith with you about that special day on 10th March 2007.
God grant me your grace,
that promise of forgiveness,
Before becoming a Christian on 10th March 2007, I set foot in a church only occasionally; for christenings, weddings and funerals. Even so, I thought of myself as a Christian because I did believe in God and was a nice(ish) person. That’s what I thought a Christian was.
My journey to faith really began a lifetime ago but, to keep this missive as brief as possible, I’d found myself at a crossroads, having become an adult orphan separated from my four siblings through the toll of years of family trauma. I was at saturation point with that, so much so that my health was deteriorating. I also hated my job and, although I am married with two adult children who I love dearly, I felt there was a big hole in my life that I couldn’t fill. I didn’t know what my life was about any more or even why I was here. It was then that I spotted a poster on a bill board asking: What’s the Meaning of Life? I thought I should investigate what this was offering.
I phoned the number on the poster but they were running the course on a day and time when I was doing something else. I’d initially thought it was one of those ‘self help’ courses and was a bit shocked to discover it was a Christianity Course called Alpha. So, I left it alone as I thought it would be too intent on trying to convert people.
Then I successfully applied for the post of administrator for the Scarborough Methodist Circuit. I thought it would be quite nice to have a spiritually-led job to bring me up to the age of retirement.
On the first day, I walked through the door to start work and there was the Alpha poster in my face. In that first week, Reverend Clare Stainsby gave me a booklet about being a member of the Methodist Church (Called By Name) and the hierarchy system of the Methodist Connexion, which was necessary to carry out the job. I didn’t know anything at all about the Methodist Church, or any other church come to that. I read the whole thing and was so fascinated by it that I signed up for the next Alpha Course, which was being run by Reverend Geoff Bowell and his wife, Helen, at their home – not far from mine. It started on 29th January 2007. I’d been in the job only 21 days and here I was on my way to God.
I expected Alpha to be for people like me who didn’t go to church so I was surprised that there were people there who did, some of whom had been going all their lives via their upbringing, some were Christians – some were not. They were searching for understanding and a personal relationship with God.
During the course, I made new friends. We laughed together, cried together, shared our stories and ideas. I found it hard sometimes as I didn’t really know what my questions were – never mind getting answers to them. I asked Geoff if I’d have all my answers when I’d finished the course and he just laughed and said, ‘Oh, we don’t get the answers, we just get a better set of questions.’
I struggled with the Trinity concept of accepting that God and Jesus were the same person – I believed in God and I could understand how He was the Holy Spirit too – I knew about Jesus but couldn’t get the sense of it all being the same person. I almost stopped going to Alpha because of this hurdle. What was the point in my continuing if I couldn’t grasp the basis of the whole context of the Christian faith? Then Helen said to me, ‘Why don’t you ask God to show you in a way you will understand?’ So I did and that night I had a dream.
If I told you what that dream was you would not know how I came to my understanding of the Trinity through it because each of us gets shown things by God in ways that are unique to us as individuals. However, when I woke up from the dream, everything was crystal clear. I knew then what Jesus meant when he said, ‘I am the way’. I had to go through Him to get to God. How on earth had I got through my life so far without knowing this? All I had to do was open the door and let Jesus in and He would do the rest. But that was easier said than done.
I felt unworthy, untrusting, concerned that I may have to do something I didn’t like if I committed myself. Soon after the dream I realised that, through Jesus, God had actually crept into my life (when I wasn’t looking). I had opened that door to take a peep and couldn’t close it again. I couldn’t pour Him back out of my life once He’d arrived. He was here to stay.
The Alpha away day’s teaching based on the Holy Spirit was on Saturday 10th March 2007 at the Solid Rock café on Newborough. I knew something had already happened to me in my heart and felt that this day was going to be special for me somehow. I felt different.
We began the day by singing the hymn ‘King of Kings, Majesty’ before the lessons started and I couldn’t get the words out. By the second line ‘God of Heaven living in me’, I knew for sure God really was living inside me. I couldn’t sing. I could only listen to the words as they were being sung because I felt overwhelmed. As I was saying the words to God in my mind, something was building up inside me.
After the song, we continued our learning until lunchtime but I was in a daze and didn’t really take anything in. I felt impatient, waiting – for more of this feeling I had experienced. I wasn’t prepared for my response when we sang that hymn again at the end of the day.
Following the lessons and discussions, we stood in a circle and Geoff prayed for the Holy Spirit to descend on us. I said to myself, ‘OK, this is it – it’s now or never. Open your heart and you’ll maybe find what you’ve been looking for. Just let Jesus in.’
I could hardly breathe because I was trying to keep my emotions in check as we sang ‘King of Kings, Majesty’ once more. My whole body tingled and trembled as an overpowering sense of love struck me dumb. When we sang the second line ‘God of Heaven living in me’, I was saturated with a feeling of unconditional love and peace. Tears poured down my face. It was as though I was being washed with forgiveness. I sobbed throughout the whole song, knowing God was forgiving me for every single thing I had thought, said or done in the past that was wrong.
That was the exact moment I gave my life to Christ.
I wrote the following as a celebration of that day:
Anoint me from the golden chalice
pour your presence from above.
Through your light let me come to glory
as you lead the way with righteous love.
My door was open only slightly
yet you took my breathlessness away
with forgiveness of a lifetime’s story
freeing doubt, and fear, and pain.
My tears, in silence all around me,
flow through fingers, sooth my sorrow
as feathered whispers brush my skin
with promises for a new tomorrow.
Your love, now rising through my soul
leaves my sins beneath,
in sudden triumph takes me whole
and, waiting underneath
is trust and faith – born anew.
I have found myself in you.
All it took was a small step to open the door to Jesus’ knock but on the other side of that door it seemed so far away. It took me years to let him in. Thankfully, it’s never too late. God never gave up on me and when there was nothing left for me but God, that’s when I discovered that God was all I needed.
Text © 2007 Julie M Fairweather
PS I thoroughly recommend Alpha if you are searching for the meaning of your life. It’s a place where you can ask anything… even those questions about suffering… the suffering in the world that many blame God for. I hope you will be surprised and encouraged by the answers and that these answers will offer you a better set of questions to take with you as you journey on.