OK, I’ve decided to “come out”. I go to Church. In other words, I’m a Christian. Why? Now that’s a long story, so let me begin at the end and then go back to the beginning. You might know that I’ve never been conventional!
Here we go then. I have been banging on at Church about the amazing things that God is doing in peoples’ lives, and asking why we hardly ever speak about them? Testimonial is powerful, personal and irrefutable, but we are English – stiff upper lip and all that. Testimonial might be a bit too emotional and we aren’t good at showing emotions!
This week we had a guest speaker at our Church, Holy Trinity in Boston. His name is Pete Atkins and he is director of Ground Level and president of Churches Together in all Lincolnshire. Our Vicar, Simon, asked him base his talk on “God can do new things”.
He told us a little about himself and although I don’t have the memory to retell his talk verbatim part of story was about paths that don’t exist! The gist of it was that he loves to Prayer Walk. This is, exactly as it says on the tin, praying while walking!
As he prefers to concentrate on prayer and doesn’t want to be distracted by new sights and sounds, he tends to walk the same paths all the time.
On one of his regular walks he was astounded to a notice a new pathway cutting straight across the field. There were no details of it on his map, no footpath sign, not even footprints, ruts or weeds. Nothing! Just a pristine path leading straight into the woods beyond!.
On later investigation he discovered that a fox had began walking the route, trailing his tail behind, brushing the path clean of footprints. No mystery there then!
A few weeks later he was on another of his regular walks and low and behold, another path he hadn’t noticed! Another fox? Again, this path was not on the map, BUT this time it WAS signposted so it was a regular path, straight across the fields and into the woods beyond.
This got him thinking. How had he managed to miss this before? He spoke to a friend about it and they took another look. His friend, who was also a regular walker along this route, had never noticed it before either and swore that it was impossible for him not to have seen it and wondered why it was signposted but wasn’t on the map? Now this was a mystery.
He then went on to explain how this thinking about “new paths” had led him personally in a new direction. This led into his talk about God doing new things and one of the things he spoke about was that he had a sense someone that there was someone in the Church who was either a writer or a journalist who should be doing “new things” with perhaps digital media or a magazine.
After the service I told him that I had written a blog for years, but had recently “dried up”. After hearing him speak I was wondering if I should tell the story of how I became a Christian and what happened then.
So to cut a long story short, this is where I am now and in future blogs I will fill in the gaps from there to here.
In the meantime I’ll leave you with this thought. Every day I read Nikki Gumbels' “The Bible in One year”. Yesterday he quoted two very different individuals:
Russell Brand (the English comedian, actor, columnist, singer, author and presenter) who said, ‘Laughter is addictive because of the inevitability of death. It gives us a temporary escape – for the moment it stops the fear of the inevitability of death.’
Mother Teresa who was asked shortly before her death, ‘Are you afraid of dying?’ She said, ‘How can I be? Dying is going home to God. I have never been afraid. No, on the contrary,’ she said, ‘I am really looking forward to it!’
Two very influential and charismatic characters who, you would think, don’t belong on the same planet, let alone the same page! Russell Brand is quite right of course, but wouldn’t it be great if we could all have the same conviction as Mother Teresa? I know that I do.
And as an aside - Nikki Gumbel - here is a very clued up and interesting man. His church group in west London, Holy Trinity in Brompton Road, has (if memory services me right) a congregation of 1500, 11 services a day, attended predominately by young adults! That’s unusual isn’t it? He took over the running of Alpha Courses in 1990 which now take place worldwide. We live in exciting times.