With all the recent testimonies the one thing that I am slightly jealous of is that I do not have a particular point in time as a teenager or adult when I committed my life to God that I can remember. I have always believed for as long as I can remember, but that is not to say that I slavishly accepted everything I was told.
When I was about 6 my School Teacher and Sunday School Teacher. Who were the same person, was teaching me about the Evolutiuon of Man at school and the Creation of man on a Sunday. I was confused, and she would not address my questions with serious answers.
So, I decided I did not want to go to Sunday School anymore and my parents were wise enough not to force the issue, as I was already going to a Crusaders (now known as Urban Saints) which met of Sunday afternoons. I think this early experience focused my life on a Science based career, as I was always questioning what I was taught. I now work in a company that actively promotes an attitude of Constructive Criticism, constantly questioning how we can improve the quality of the services we offer.
I was recently struck by two things from Ro’s recent sermon on Our Identity
Identity in Busy-ness
Christians tend to drift away from God, rather than make a decision to do so.
About 40 years ago, when I became a Crusader Leader, I felt I needed to commit to a specific church, rather than going spasmodically with friends to their churches, that I decided to attend a small church in Finchley with my girlfriend Joy.
I soon became heavily involved and was leading the Younger Youth on a Sunday morning and a midweek games evening and the Older Youth after the evening service, whilst also for a time keeping up my leadership role with Crusaders, that took up my Sunday afternoons and Friday evenings.
After about 5 years Joy and I married and moved to Twickenham as at the time she was doing a Fine Arts degree at Kingston Polytechnic.
Over the first year of our marriage we tried out 3 or so churches that had been recommended to us but could never settle at one for any length of time. We always felt on the outside and struggled to get involved in any activities.
We gradually drifted away from church altogether and Joy drifted away from God and has yet to return and we ended up getting divorced.
A short time later when attending a GP appointment, she turned to me and said that ‘I needed to Forgive God for my divorce’ and then discussing why I was not involved in a church.
She offered to introduce me to some people at St Stephen’s and within a month I had been invited to be a member of the Youth Ministry Leadership Team. Once again began to feel involved. Was this feeding into my Identity of Busy-ness?
I can remember at the time resolving to make church attendance a priority, even when I did not feel involved or wanted/needed to go. I never wanted to slowly drift away from a church and the relational support it gives, without you actually realising that it is happening.
As an example, a few years ago I began to feel uninvolved and disillusioned with St Saviours, and struggling to worship with any conviction and was wondering if this was a sign from God we should move on to another church. God remained silent during this time to me which I took to mean we needed to stay at St Saviours.
A short while later I was at New Wine and went forward for prayer and was given a prophetic word. Almost immediately I began to worship more freely and returned from the week, uplifted.
With the arrival of Ron and Ro shortly afterwards, I can now see why God wanted me to stay put.
It was my resolution to attend church even when I did not feel like it, that got me through that period.
I have come to realise more and more, that it is the brief chats and sharing of experiences that I miss when I am not around on a Sunday and through the Men’s Ministry over the last year I have also gained the confidence to share more intimate problems for prayer, which in turn have lead to other men being more honest with me.
Resolving to be in church as often as possible is like learning the Lords Prayer, so there is always something to fall back on, when you are finding it difficult to pray.