Sixteen - Dwelling Spaces

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Sixteen's my sixteenth birthday! Well, sixteenth Christian birthday :-) 13th March 2000 was the day I became a Christian and in some ways it seems like yesterday. At the time it seemed quite a dramatic change, but it is interesting to reflect back over the years before that, and the significant moments on a journey towards (and at times away from) faith. I liked going to church as a child and particularly being allowed to do the readings now and then in the services, and I definitely had some sort of spiritual encounter during my confirmation, but my main memory is the huge internal conflict that being a Sunday Anglican in a Monday to Friday Catholic school introduced. The actions of Christians made me think God was a hypocrite, and along with normal teenage angst it made me dismiss belief in God, although I kept almost unconsciously testing whether God was there over the years.

Starting my first job as a new graduate was a turning point for me, and working next to and becoming good friends with Adrian who was a committed Christian. The next 6 years were marked by many, many discussions about God and faith, and going along to occasional Christian things with Adrian and his wife Ruth. I don't know who was more surprised, them or me, that I finally accepted their invitation to church in August 1999. I had just driven to France to watch the total eclipse which had had a profound impact on me, and caused me to really wonder if life and the universe really was an accident of nature. I really didn't like their church and swore I wouldn't go back, and yet the following week woke up with a desperate desire to go to church! I went and cried all the way through the service which quite alarmed me. Cue 8 months of reading Christian books, doing an Alpha course and asking never-ending questions, trying to get to the point that no-one in the last 2000 years has managed, to rationally prove that God was real.

There were so many significant points in those few months, but the simple challenge of a young girl from church, who said 'God says let your barriers down' was enough to trigger a willingness to believe God might exist. And that was enough space for the love of God to pour in with a weight of absolute certainty that God was real. It is a strange experience to suddenly feel like you are known intimately and accepted totally. That there is someone who not only can forgive everything you have done wrong but wants to forgive you and has already shown how much they love you. That immediate conviction that I must respond with everything in me has not left me in the last 16 years, and has deepened and filled out in extraordinary ways. The nature of faith is that it is rarely 100% certain, but the faithfulness of God towards me is constant and unchanging. So I am so grateful to be able to say with more assurance than ever that 'the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, Jesus, who loved me and gave himself for me' (Gal 2.20).

Photo Credit: SaraElizabethCakes

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