‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.
I have always known about Jesus, and always known about the God of the Bible. I must have learned this at school because my parents were not churchgoers or in any way religious. When I was about fourteen I decided I ought to be baptised. There had been comments at school about how strange it was that I hadn’t been ‘done’ as a baby so I was duly christened and confirmed by the Bishop. How was I to know it wasn’t confirmation that I needed – it was conversion! I knew nothing of the grace and mercy of God.
I married young – no regrets about that – and had two little girls. It was at the time of the Cold War and there was the worry that the Russians were going to blow us all up. I was anxious and asking myself questions about life and death, and heaven and hell. I started talking to Jehovah Witnesses on the doorstep but they just confused me more. My unbelieving husband didn’t like me seeing Watch Tower people so he bought me a Bible, which I started to read.
What to believe?
The more I read about Jesus, the more I was convinced he was truly God and everything he claimed to be. But what about the Old Testament? Should I believe what I was taught at school, that we evolved from apes? Well, Jesus gave authority to the Old Testament, for instance when talking to the two on the road to Emmaus:
‘How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself.
So I prayed, ‘Lord, I believe but I don’t understand. Please lead me on.’ We found a Bible-believing church and started to attend as a family. It was a revelation to me to see so many folk carrying Bibles, young people too! Then one day the preacher spoke to the children. He had been visiting a friend who kept horses and when they visited the paddock one horse came running over as soon as he saw his master. ‘See this horse?’ he said. ‘Of all the horses I’ve broken in, he was the most difficult. Now I think he would follow me anywhere.’
These words had a profound effect on me. I knew I had been like that stubborn animal all my life. When I got home I poured out my heart to the Lord in repentance and gave the reins over to him, my Lord and Saviour. I was baptised as a believer by total immersion, a graphic picture of what had happened to me – death to the old life and rising to the new. My baptismal text was ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’
That was forty years ago. My husband remained unconvinced but he was always very supportive. What has my pilgrimage been like? Many joys – learning about the deep love of God, what it cost to save me, his amazing grace – and many tears too. We lost a son-in-law who died at his own hand, and we have known the loss of a beloved daughter to breast cancer, and my own experience of deep paralysing depression. (I have learned what it means by ‘his strength being made perfect in my weakness’). Then most recently came the loss of my husband of over fifty years. Praise God, he came into the kingdom just before he died, so I am comforted.
So I have come to the last period of my pilgrimage, learning with God’s help to live alone. Of course I am not really alone, and on a human level I have all my brothers and sisters in Christ who have been such a help to me. I also have with the kindness of my unconverted remaining daughter and granddaughters. Even more importantly, I know that God has said…
[I have] plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.