Thought I should come clean right at the start and tell you I am one of those born again, happy clappy christians, who really annoy you.
Here’s a piece I wrote for my Facebook page, telling how it happened.
It was the 1956 Suez Crisis and I was returning to England with my family from South Africa on a Union Castle liner. One of the passengers gave me a porcelain pixie. If I said good morning and good night to it every day, it would bring me good luck, she told me. It was a nice idea, but I knew I could never manage twice a day, every day.
Fast forward a couple of years and I was at junior school in Bromley. We were taught about Joshua – yes, him in the bible. ‘In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! … Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid don’t get discouraged. God, your God is with you every step you take’.
This made such an impression on me. Here was the god of Moses, the man who had dared to believe that when he waved his stick the Red Sea would part and allow all the Israelites to cross safely, promising to be with Joshua in exactly the same way. And I began to believe it for myself.
But life was not all sweetness and light. I was angry. So angry I can remember running round the playground wanting to land one on my best friend, and I felt ashamed. I began to talk to people about my temper. They suggested things I might do – count to ten, take a deep breath, go and dig the garden. But just like the pixie, they depended on me remembering to do something. And I knew I couldn’t in the heat of the moment.
Then I talked to our local vicar. He had a better idea. He said that this was something that Jesus could help me with. He had taken the punishment for my bad behaviour and I could rely on him to forgive me and to help me to keep my cool. I decided to give it a go. After all, this was the god that had promised to help Joshua – and look what happened to him.
The next day, everything felt brand new, as if I had been given a new exercise book to write in. I began to read the bible and to pray each day. I went to church and found new friends. When things went wrong, I had somewhere to go and someone to help me. I began to realise that there was a plan and purpose for my life. This had to be better than the pixie!
Nearly fifty years later, my life is still being shaped by that same god. What he says is the foundation for the way I live my life. I just can’t imagine what life would be like with this underpinning belief, this underpinning faith in God. Take that away, and there’s – nothing.