Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Set Apart

In the early years of my childhood, I constantly felt drawn towards God, even though I was never to my knowledge, taught about Him or about the work of Jesus on the Cross.  I was, however, often in places where I could sense His Presence. 

For several years I was at times allowed to sit in the organ loft with my father, who was the Organist and Director of Music at Ely Cathedral. When he played, I was always inexplicably moved by the solemnity and beauty of the music that was produced by the choristers singing below with their angelic voices in harmony, in the massive building with its incredible acoustics, with the varying tones emanating from the organ, so grandly handled by my father. There was no mirth or laughter, but everything proceeded in its proper place and order.  There was a graciousness involved, and I suppose it was the combination of the special sound and the devout offering to God that caught my spirit.

Often on those occasions I was privy to meeting "people of the cloth" at meal-times, when there would be lively discussion, presumably around the Anglican calendar, and of course, God was mentioned many times.  No-one preached to me or tried to "save me", and being very young at the time, I don't in fact remember any details of the discussions.  Religion seemed to have a lot of importance in life, and I somehow knew that the Holy Bible contained mysteries that would open up something of enormous significance to me one day, when I might begin to understand its quaint King James version of our language.

One of my favourite past times was to take our Samoyed dog for walks, and I would spend time sitting at the edge of a barley field, simply asking Jesus to show me that He was real.  I would confess my sins (which took some time on some days), then tell him of all the things that were hurtful to me; my loneliness; being bullied at school; my daddy hardly ever being there for me because of his duties at Ely whilst our home was in Suffolk; often feeling forsaken and overlooked; competing with my cousins, who lived with us, and forever getting into trouble for "misleading" them - so many thing I didn't understand about my life, or why I didn't have a mother of my own, or why I lived with a grandmother who was so very old fashioned...

As I have told elsewhere in this Blog in The Beckoning , the day came when Jesus did reveal Himself to me.  I also stumbled upon a huge Bible with full-plate pictures and thumb index, ready to be disposed off with the rest of that week's rubbish.  I still couldn't understand its language, but I was compelled to keep it open on the dresser in my bedroom, sensing there was a lot about Jesus in there.

The next part of my life took on an even more turbulent nuance, as I was bundled off to a boarding school since my grandmother had now died.  I was desperately unhappy, still bullied, still disliked, and one of those kids who never got chosen for a team but was reluctantly accepted as the default loser.  The school was near the sea in Essex, and every weekend we went for long walks along the promenades.  This too, was an ordeal for me to face, because everyone was paired up - except myself.  I lived a lot of that time in an imaginary world, but Jesus was my Saviour!  He partnered me on those walks and I would talk to Him.  I would "see" Him walking on the sea water on some of the misty mornings, keeping me company, always watching over me.  I would go to the dormitory window after lights-out and "see" Him wandering through the fields, bringing peace and harmony with Him.  He would be right there next to me too.  I felt His Presence.  I began to learn the Scriptures and marvelled at the fact that the school I was attending allowed me to study the Bible in more depth, simply because I wanted to.  My head teacher was a Christian Scientist, but she never imposed those doctrines on me, other than to teach the reality of Jesus, and this again, I see as a definite provision made for me by God.  She set a room aside for myself and two other girls to go into so that we could study the Bible together.  And a wonderful provision also made for me was that she allowed me, the only pupil in the school with this privilege, to play her personal grand piano, because of my ability to play it well and sensitively.

There are many, many stories I could go on to tell of those years in my life, but I now want to fast-forward to just a couple of days ago.

I was at a special worship and testimony evening, and our time of worship was simply beautiful.  The words we sang were potent and true.  Suddenly I was aware of Jesus again, just as I had "seen" Him during my time at the boarding school.  He was holding His hands out towards me, beckoning me for a hug, just as He did back then.  He was telling me something important: 

Here is what I felt He said to me, "I am still here.  I have never changed.  I have never let you go and never will.  I know you have been troubled by many different doctrines and different points of view put across over the years, and that you have felt perplexed and torn, because not all teaching has been in line with Scripture, whilst other teachings have opened up new possibilities, and you've wondered if this is okay.  Know this:  I am the same yesterday and today and forever*.  I have never changed.  Focus on Me - that's what is important.  Don't focus on teachings that might be right or wrong, keep your heart soft and open.  Don't focus on healings and miracles and wonder if they are genuine.  Focus on Me.  Desire only to see Me, and I will always guide your footsteps. I set you apart all those years ago, so be encouraged, for my Presence is always with you even though you walk through troubled times and sometimes feel that your understanding is dimmed.  I love you, and I know that you love Me."

And I do indeed love my Lord, my Saviour who saved me by His wonderful grace!  I praise and honour Him!

*Hebrews 13:8