I chose this reading because I think it sums up a lot of my experiences with God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3 5-6.
If I’ve learned one thing from my relationship with God, it’s that he’s always right and I’m often wrong. It’s like a major part of my walk with him, as some call it, has been all about getting over myself. Realising I am not that great, not that wise. Coming to terms with it, and realising that that’s ok. I was never supposed to have to work it all out alone anyway.
I’ve always believed in God. Mum and Dad told us he was real, and they never lied to us about anything, though whether dad really did kill the last dragon in Britain is still up for debate. So I trusted them, if they said that was how it was, that was good enough for me. I think as a teenager I might have stumbled in my faith more had I not seen my parents’ faith played out in their lives. I didn’t have many Christian friends, so in many ways it would have been easier to have ignored God, and in many ways I didn’t give him enough importance in my life. But the fact that amid all the teenage hormones and drama, my parents were the constant voice of reason, like the way we weren’t really allowed to dislike anyone, because if you moaned about them mum or dad would help you see the other side of the story. Or if you did something wrong then you got a stern telling off, but they never hit us, and you could see they loved us even in their angrier moments. I could plainly see that there was real good in the world, and I saw that God was the source of it. I didn’t always want to listen, but I couldn’t deny it deep down, and really what I wanted was a world where the good side always won.
It was when I went to uni though that the decision to follow God became my own, would I attend church, who would I make friends with? And just as God had provided an amazing family to lead me, he really came through for me in this next step too. In the first week of uni I’d met Matt, and our friends Steve and Hannah. And they all had a big part to play in encouraging me to keep the faith. Steve used to nag me to come to church, when I was really tired after a night out or had an essay in that week. He usually prevailed. And Hannah was a real inspiration to me, she showed me faith in action in all areas of her life, like in the fact that when she needed somewhere to stay she just prayed about it and never worried. She just expected God to provide, no questions asked. Apparently that was what her family had always done. Through these friends and the church we went to I started to see that there could be even more to this Christian thing. Rather than just acknowledging he was there, and popping in on him on a Sunday, some people let him run the show, and he came through for them.
It was Hannah that took me to Romania the first time, God slightly ambushed me on this one. I thought I was just going on holiday for a month, but I soon realised this is where I needed to be. I always believed in God, but I was always distracted, I was having too much fun going out and hanging out with friends to really give God enough of my time for him to really make an impact. To make him lord. I’d said to myself that if I could have 6 months as a nun my walk with God would be a lot better. Well God took me up on that, he sent me to Romania for two and a half years. That was the first time I really felt God clearly telling me something, and saying ‘yes’ has changed my life totally. In Romania I worked with people who had given up everything they had to live for God, left jobs as lawyers to sit on the street with homeless kids, just because God told them to. I worked with other volunteers who prayed every day and expected God to answer every day. I saw a charity which had no income manage to feed and support hundreds of families every week. And I was like, here’s God!
In the poor people we worked with I saw faith, I saw people with no food pray for food, and then get some delivered, out of nowhere. I saw a woman with broken ribs and real faith get totally healed in front of my eyes. Any questions about God were totally answered when I realised that when he runs the show, things get put right. I know there is horrendous injustice in the world, but all the people I met who were truly listening to God were doing something about it. Because he flipping cares. I got to know God out there, he became my friend as well as my God. And the biggest lesson I learned is it’s just not about me. If life was about me it would be shallow and selfish and unfulfilling, it’s about him. And when I started to make it about him, everything started to make more sense. and it started to become about other people too.
You can’t ignore God in Romania because he is needed all the time, so you seek him all the time, so he answers all the time. But God told me to come back, to get married and to do that praying and the loving and the healing, back here. There’s so much comfort in the west that you can forget you need God, and be distracted by a million things a day. I’m here because there is no debate for me whether God is real or not, or if he’s good or not. The only debate is whether I let him have his way, or I make it all about me again. And I don’t want that. I truly believe Jesus died for me, and I know I can’t do anything less than live for him. This baptism is about saying, “It’s not about me, it’s about him, and I’m one of his.”