It is 6am on Saturday morning and I am wide awake bathed in perspiration, but I know my prayer of last night has been answered. I have been battling a flu-like virus for the past 96 hours and I can confidently say “the fever has broken”. Despite the fact that I still have a chesty cough and head cold my immune system has won through and I am on the mend. Thank you Lord.
As I was confined to the house for much of the week I began sorting out some older computer files, during which I came upon a letter of mine written to a friend in 2004. It was a reflection upon the way in which my perspective of church, religion and faith has shifted over time. I paraphrase some of this below.
“Brought up as a Catholic, I saw the church primarily as God’s authority on earth. In my later teens and twenties I spend many years ignoring Christianity altogether. Then when I encountered the Tamworth Elim Church in 1997 I found not religion but “faith in Christ”.
However I still saw the church as the intermediary through whom I could encounter God. Over time this misconception (or rather partial truth) has been replaced by the realization that my Christian walk is fundamentally personal; a “one to one” with Him. God loves me as I am, and does not want me to approach Him via anyone else or through any earthly “institution”, but rather directly, in person, eye to eye. This is only possible through the sacrificial love of Christ through whom I have direct access to God in prayer, worship, praise and thanksgiving.
I see church now as the place where fellow Christians meet to share their faith, to encourage each other, and to worship collectively. It is also an instrument for teaching, evangelism and works of service. This equal participation in “church” is what makes it so fulfilling.”
Since writing that piece 14 years ago, it is salutary to realise how much of life has flowed under the bridge, with the marriages of both my daughters, and the subsequent growth of my extended family with the arrival of 6 grandchildren, my full time retirement in 2009 and the care for my wonderful mother who brought eight of us into the world and who prayed for each of us every day. She sadly passed away in 2016.
Throughout, I am aware how God’s grace and Holy Spirit have sustained me through the highs and lows, holidays and hospital visits, successes and failures, births and deaths, joys and sorrows. My “one to ones” with God have ebbed and flowed over the years as I have either stayed close or wandered further from Him, but never have I failed to find Him when I turned to seek, pray, praise and thank Him.
My church remains my focus for sharing this life of faith, for serving together, for encouragement and mutual support, for recharging my spiritual batteries, for celebrating and praising God with others and for nurturing my understanding of His ways.
But I am equally delighted that God always has time to meet me “one to one”, to listen, love, counsel, forgive, restore and send me out once more – one day at a time. It is humbling to reflect that at the time I wrote to my friend in 2004, Jesus had already seen my reflecting upon my words 14 years in the future!
One to One
Thoughts from the past caught in my glancing eye,
Stand forth to speak new words of prophecy
Back to my life from time gone by.
My faith is one to one
From Potter to the clay
From Maker to the man he made,
Who walks by faith from day to day.
Take time to share life’s joys and tears
With Him who has endured,
Despite the deepest hurt the world has known,
And rose again to show the Way.
Perhaps in time I will return and read these words anew
And know that Christ has seen it all
From start to end, from me to you.
© Martin Wild 2018