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I Have So Many QuestionsWhy have I come to church tonight? What am I hoping to find here?
As I sit amongst the packed and enthusiastic congregation I feel strangely 'out of it'. Can I really be the only one here feeling so perplexed, and wishing I had that 'something' that others here so obviously have? I wonder, as I have so often before, what the service means to other people and what they are thinking.
Sometimes when I listen to the sermon I feel it's for someone who has a totally different and higher level of understanding of God, the Bible and Jesus. I don't even really know how God relates to my own life. And what exactly is the Holy Spirit? Why is the Resurrection so important? All these questions, and many others, and despite having been to church on and off for 35 years or so, I still feel I don't really know what it's all about.
What exactly is a Christian? I go to church regularly and try to lead a good life, but that apparently doesn't make me a Christian, so what does? And how do I become one? When I look at friends who are Christians they definitely seem different; they seem to have a confidence and peace about life and what it holds, yet they are still fun to be with and have a genuine warmth and friendship. I certainly see the richness that others have in their lives - others who are Christians.
What Am I Looking For?My own life seems to lack direction and I seem to be wandering along with no real purpose; I don't seem to be doing my best at looking after our family and I feel that a definite guideline would help so much. Sometimes I seem to see, like the sun between the clouds, a promise of something really great, but as yet I don't understand what it is. I hesitate to voice my thoughts to anyone; after all, our religious thoughts and ideals are very personal - aren't they? Maybe a chat with someone who knows more would be helpful, but I don't want to find I'm becoming too involved, after all, it may not be what I want ... but still ...
All that was six months ago. No pressure was put on me during the enlightening and sympathetic chat I had with my vicar, John; but he put me in touch with a young mother who took me through the Christain Basics Course sessions, which I found enjoyable and valuble, and which answered many questions. I continued going to my church regularly most Sundays. I had been going largely because I enjoyed the singing, but I realised that at some point the desire for church-going had become a genuine need for worship and fellowship with other Christians and a deep personal fulfillment and enjoyment. I felt a desire to make the suggested prayer of commitment, but I hesitated until I was sure. After all, it comes as quite a shock to find after all these years that there is a new Way of Life. I found this a time of considerable soul-searching, thoughtfulness and mixed emotions.
A New 'Me'But in due course I knew I wanted to make that commitment. No flash of light, no sudden awakening, but a deep, warm feeling of peace that gradually spread through me. Anger and impatience which had previously been too readliy awakened now dispersed, to be replaced with a tolerance and patience I didn't know I had. Instead of 'boiling up' when disagreements and arguments flared, I felt myself consciously 'simmering down' and thus being ready to calm things down. Nobody was more surprised at this reaction than I was! So much of this new awakening was inside me. I found prayer, and was able to talk to Jesus. I marvelled at His availability 24 hours a day, 7 days a week just for the asking - no phone to use, no letter to write - He is there with us every moment of the time. There aren't many friends who can be available like that! I was amazed at how often my conscience niggled at me (and quite rightly so) where it hadn't before - or maybe I had chosen to ignore it before. The Bible itself, I found, was a fascinating fund of stories and information on how to live. How had I never realised this before?
Although I found these weeks very emotional and sometimes difficult to understand, I knew that this New Life was right, and I couldn't - and indeed didn't want to - go back to my life as it was before. I repeated the Christian Basics course with a group during November and found that many more points were clarified and consolidated. The interchange between members of the group not only gave a balance and exchange of ideas, but it also gave me confidence and reassurance to find that others shared similar doubts and thougts.
A New LifeSo there I was, 'born again', a Christian. Last year my life was without direction; now the fundamental direction is clear. A new Way of Life, a new Dimension to Life, and new Purpose in Life, and the very existance of purpose makes everyday life more worthwhile. I know there is so much more to learn and discover, and it will go on, and on, to Eternity. But I feel sure that whatever life brings, and I know that it will not always be easy, I shall be able to cope with it, now that there is a new Light to be guided by.
If you are reading this and feel as I did, do take that next enquiring step. After all, whatever you do to find out about the Christian way of life, and however many people you talk to, the ultimate decision as to whether you become a Christian is yours and yours alone. God has given us that freedom of decision and nobody can decide for you. So you cannot lose by finding out more, but you can gain so very much.
If you want to know more about this new life that Joan has found, visit the page that tells you about John 3:16, a part of the Bible that is at the heart of the Christain faith, and will start you on the path to discovering just what it is all about.
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