Sunday, January 8


This is a story about my faith. It starts back when I didn’t believe...
 My dad, he was the pastor at our church in Auckland, New Zealand when I was a little girl, when I still wore piggy tails and jelly shoes. I was a pastor’s kid, and some people thought I would robotically believe, that faith was genetic, and my little soul was a carbon copy of my parent’s. Religious jargon can be learnt and spouted forth with precocious conviction, but that’s not faith – and you can’t fool God. I grew up attending Sunday School, and hearing the stories of the bible read to me every day. Since I was a weeny baby it had been part of my world, I knew no other. I knew the hymns, the stories, and how to look like I was a good little Christian girl. My main reason for liking church was that I got to play with my best friends afterwards.... I would often be sitting in the pew longing for that last painful hymn to end, so that I could grab some cookies and run around giggling with my little friends in our 90’s dresses and hats. Sometimes the older folks would give me a peppermint, that was good too.
I knew it all in my head, just like I knew that proper nouns needed capital letters, and legs in ballet must be turned out at all times. But I decided that when I was a grown up, I wouldn’t attend church, and I wouldn’t make my children either. It just didn’t seem really important; not life-changingly-so. I was cold, and religiosity without faith is hollow.
In our church there was a sweet old couple, not really old, but in their 60’s. I knew them a bit. One day, the wife was on the phone to her twin sister when she had a heart attack and fell to the ground. Her twin sister heard sudden silence and knew that something awful had happened. Telepathically confirmed. Next the husband came home to find his wife lying on the floor - he then had a heart attack and so they were both there and then both gone. We were all shocked. It felt stark, gaping, appalling. How can life be snuffed out in an instant? It was my first real brush with death. It hit me for the first time:
I’m going to die one day.
I did not like that thought at all.  I went to the funeral – I saw the coffin... and imagined the dead couple and I decided I did not like death. I despised it for its cruelty. And yet, the other mourners were joyful through their wet eyes; they kept saying that they would see them again one day, that they were in a place where tears were outlawed and pain forbidden. That night was not a good one for me. Insomnia paid me a visit. I just couldn’t get to sleep because I was so fearful that I would die during the night. It was a possibility; that couple just dropped dead in one day! What if I died in the night....what then?
 If there really was a God who had made this whole beautiful world...if he really did make me to be friends with him and live the way he designed me to...then no wonder he didn’t like the fact that I was ignoring him completely, and pretending I was god. It seemed right then that I shouldn’t get to live forever with him in a perfect earth after this life, if I’d ignored him like that when he had made me. But here was my problem: I had ignored God, and he had every right to be sad and angry at my rejection. How could I come to be reconciled to him?
I was just terrified that I’d die before I’d sorted these things out. My caring mum sat beside me on the bed every single night that summer, helping me to be calm, to go to sleep. Oh the relief when I woke up each morning. Still alive! One more day. But all too soon it was night time again, and these anxious thoughts returned. Whenever the sun started to set, I felt their haunting presence in my mind. I wasn’t ready to die. I didn’t want to die. I knew I had ignored God. The way I behaved and treated other people he’d created was witness to it. I had stuffed Him in a cupboard because I thought I could navigate my way through life a lot better alone. I also knew that hard as I tried, I could not possibly be perfect – it was in my nature to do the wrong thing.
If God really was concerned about the problem that I had ignored him, and he really did want there to be a way for me to come back into a relationship with him...this was of great interest to me. His Son lived on earth and never did a wrong thing. He was murdered as an innocent man, and then suffered all God’s anger for all of my  And when I die, I’d be able to live with him in a new earth, so really it was no death at all.

Grace – I had done nothing to deserve this. Not a thing. 
One night, after countless evenings of terror, I finally felt peace. I had told Him that I knew I was all messed up, and that he was the one in control...that I was sorry. And I knew that because of the solution he had designed, because my punishment had already been taken, I was free! And so, I went to sleep knowing that if I died in the night, I would wake to meet God, and if I stayed alive, I would wake in my bed and have another chance at living in relationship with him, and surrendering the control of my life to one who could guide me so much better. 


It was such a relief. I felt light. Free. Happy. Like a helium balloon sailing along. Life is still befuddling and hurtful – but my freedom is joy. I know that everything is happening for a reason, and I know it’s to change me for the better. I am not afraid to die. I’m looking forward to a world where I can meet the creator who made me and forgave me, where I am full of energy, where I never make mistakes, and never shed another tear. Bring on that day!

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