It was one of those mysterious mornings.
I awoke very early before the sun had risen, and was drawn to look out of my bedroom window, where I beheld a scene quite unexpected!
I gazed at the tops and the bottoms of trees, but there was such a strong mist right across the middle of them that I couldn’t even discern that the trees were in tact, although logic told me they had to be!
Before I knew it, I was hastily getting dressed in warm clothes, and having sneaked out of a side entrance of our house I crept across the gravelled driveway to the outhouses where I’d find my bicycle.
Next thing, I was cycling away from home, leaving behind the comfort and warmth of my bed for an adventure that would change my life.
There was a long descent from our house as I cycled freely downward into the increasingly cold and dank greyness of the thickened mist. Then as I pushed hard on the pedals for the first ascent, I came up into pinkness and the mist thinned out as I approached the summit of the hill.
I knew I needed to go a lot further on than this, and so the process was repeated several more times until I was nearly two miles away from home. Here, in what I knew to be an open clearing with no obstacles in the way, I got off my bike, leant it up against the hedge, and set myself to watch the sun rising above the blanket of mist – the pinkness of it still enveloping me.
The sun had just begun to show its glory when suddenly, I saw Him! I knew Who it was straight away – not that I had received any teaching or instruction, but simply that I had a knowledge of this Mighty Being.
He was up there, just to the left of the sun (or from the sun’s point of view, to its right). As I gazed, I felt a surge of excitement and an inner witness that this was a supernatural experience I was having.
Who was I, a mere 11 year old child, oh so naughty and rebellious, to see Him?
I looked away, partly in shame, but partly so that if He were still there when I looked back again, I’d know I wasn’t just seeing things. He was still there, holding His right hand up, beckoning to me. I knew He was saying He had His hand on my life, and that He was beckoning me to follow His call.
I kept looking away – praying, praising, crying, singing, all at the same time as each time I looked back up, He was still there.
Then He began to merge with the sun. One minute, gloriously part of the sun, the next, separate again, then back and forth until my eyes began to hurt because of the increasing intensity of the light.
It was years later that I realised the significance of this; Jesus said “I and the Father are One. He is in me, and I am in Him.” What this experience had revealed to me symbolically was that the sun represented God the Father, and Jesus, the Son, was part of Him – they were one and the same. I also learned years later that the excitement, the knowing in my heart that this was God revealing Himself to me in a special way, was the work of the Holy Spirit.
When the experience was over, the mist began to clear too, and I cycled to a nearby field that I often used to frequent in order to pray in – a place of refuge and solitude, away from the battles and unhappiness that seemed all too often to abound in my family home. I don’t know how long I was there, but the time came when I knew I’d better get back home.
As I approached the back entrance to our house I had to go past a dustbin. On the floor beside it there was a huge book.
I picked it up – it was heavy! It had thumb inserts all along the edges of the pages, and I quickly realised it was a Bible. It had belonged to my grandmother who had died only a few months prior to this event, yet I had never seen it before.
I crept into the house and up to my bedroom with my new finding. I knelt down at a low cupboard with the book on top, and opened it. It had full plate colour pictures in it, pressed flowers, little notes and messages all carefully hidden amongst its pages, and these alone filled me with such joy.
Then I tried to read the Old King James text. Understanding of what I read eluded me almost entirely, yet I knew that this Book had within its pages something so special, and that it held the key to the whole of my future life. I struggled, but to no avail. I couldn’t believe that this book had been so carelessly thrown out, waiting for the dustmen to collect it, and I was determined to keep it now.
I don’t know what happened to that beautiful old Bible after that.
I was packed off to a boarding school with a trunk, which was to contain the entirety of the things I’d need from then on. The Book was not considered for inclusion, neither was there time to discuss it. I was bundled onto a train, where I was to be met at the other end by representatives from the school by the seaside, to which I would be assigned to live for the next three and a half years.
But that wasn’t the end of the story, only the beginning, for although I was desperately unhappy and confused as a pupil there, the headmistress of that school was a Christian, and with her help and that of two other wonderful Christian teachers (an Art-mistress and RE Teacher) I was able to learn little by little, about my Saviour. We were duty-bound to attend the little Anglican church on Sundays – not just once, but for every service. I thank my God that those services were, for me, a life-line which strengthened my faith and sense of calling, yet also made me more and more acutely aware of my own inadequacies. This time culminated in my going through the ceremony of Confirmation at just under the age of 15 years old.
Little did I understand at the time what had happened (because I had received no instruction about it), but I was in fact baptised with the Holy Spirit during that Confirmation Service, just as the Bishop laid his hands upon my head, and I made my vows. It was a simply amazing experience, during which I completely changed for approximately 24 hours!
I was the only child who’s parents or relatives had declined to attend this special occasion, but after the ceremony, rather than to mope and mourn over this fact, I found myself filled with a desire to serve everyone else who had come. This meant that during the little celebration party that was held over at our headmistress’s house afterwards, I made it my business to pass round the food, to pour out the teas and coffees, to wait on everyone else at the table, not taking anything for myself, and to wash up as well. I didn’t have to be asked, I just wanted to do it. Not only did I feel that change take place within me, but others noticed it too, and commented several times on how radiant I looked. It was like a short-lived taste of what a heavenly existence might be like – the fullness of joy in all circumstances!
This, then, was my grounding provided by God Himself, which was to hold me in good stead through the extremely turbulent years ahead. That’s another story…
The picture above this writing represents the whole of that experience, because I spent many wonderful hours walking by the sea, knowing Jesus as my Partner, my Friend and my Helper in those times that would otherwise have been overwhelmingly lonely.