“ For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age ”
My fifteenth year of life was marked by a life-changing event that took place in Newcastle on the River Tyne. As part of my schooling it was necessary to serve for two years in the British Army Cadet force. This experience was very mixed. I loved certain aspects of cadet life; running around various forests with paintball guns? Check! I like that! Long, 15-mile treks through the wilds of Scottish mountain ranges in the snow? Erm, no check - I don’t like that!
The low point of Cadet life for me took place when we were meandering around the River Tyne in a small, high-speed RIB. Without warning, the boat turned sharply, throwing me backwards into the water. Before I could surface for air, the RIB glided over my head and by some fluke of circumstance, hooked my jacket’s hanging loop to one of the boat’s underside transport hooks. My head was firmly forced under the water and I slowly began to drown. After what seemed like an eternity, a hand frantically searching under the boat for me grabbed me and pulled me into the boat.
In the months that followed, I became quite unwell with an undiagnosed sickness. I became increasingly despondent after every visit to various doctors would result in the same feedback; “We’re not sure what is wrong”. Eventually, after some years of poor health, a doctor identified a rare disease that he knew was contracted from the murky River Tyne waters! What a day. My world that had become so dark and hopeless was suddenly transformed as the light of treatment broke in!
There is nothing worse than feeling unwell but having no diagnosis. Without knowing our condition, there can be no cure. The condition of every human is that we are conceived into this world with a long-term sickness called sin. Many people have a sense that all is not well, but many are unable to escape the sense of slavery to discontentment because the condition remains hidden. When the Father sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to rescue us, it was like the sudden breaking-in of light and warmth to a dark, hopeless world. Immediately, hopelessness was shattered as a way to be rescued and healed became available to us.
God’s gift of salvation in Jesus appeared suddenly. He gives us great hope to overcome our natural, carnal appetites and rescues us from the penalty of sin which is death! The promise of salvation, is the greatest cure to the human condition.
Growing up with a Catholic family background, my experience of faith was of lifeless religious ritual. God existed, but He was distant and stern. If I needed help, I recited a prayer to the appropriate saint, but felt nothing.
During my late teens, I started reading horoscopes which developed a desire to know what the future held. I became increasingly dependent on new-age practices of divination: tarot cards, runes, mediums, believing the lie that it would offer control over my destiny and help me take charge of my happiness and success, totally blind to the spiritual darkness behind it. But then God’s grace stepped in through a desk calendar!
A Christian lady at work had a daily bible verse calendar which started to grab my attention. I visited her desk every day to read it and gradually, I became captivated by the daily verse, not the daily horoscope. I accepted an Alpha course invitation and discovered my view of God was terribly warped. He is a merciful and loving Father, deeply interested in every detail of my life. He wanted me to depend on Him for my future, not to limit me but to liberate me from my futile efforts to control things! I also met Jesus - full of power and love and who wanted my heart, not my religious rituals. I began to grasp the work of the cross, the scandal of grace - that Jesus died for my freedom. My sin and the darkness that separated me from God, Jesus took my punishment to reconcile me to Him. No amount of good works or penance could have earned the ransom for my life. I realised my desperate need for a saviour and a trustworthy guide for my life.
My relationship with Jesus came alive when I surrendered my life to Him and accepted His priceless gift of salvation. Once a control-freak, I found peace and freedom in handing the steering wheel to an all-powerful and faithful saviour, held secure in a world of chaos, knowing He is always in control and His plans are the best plans!
What has God said to you through today’s promise?