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A Defining Moment in My Life

How my spiritual life started

I was living in London when it happened. It wasn’t a noisy event –
no overnight conversion, no falling down in church, no speaking in
tongues, no being struck by lightning, no sudden “Aha!” moment.
Nevertheless, it happened.

I was 22 when I left home. Having been born in London originally, I
had lived in the suburbs until I was 12, whereupon I moved to the
countryside of Cornwall in the southwest of England. After ten years
there, I had graduated from high school and been to college. As
someone who had been teased and bullied at school and rather shy and
not terribly confident, I had developed a reputation at school for
being rather nervous and anxious, resulting in large amounts of glass
equipment in chemistry class being smashed on the floor. This
continued during my science studies at college, where I became
something of a legend for the number of test-tubes and mercury
thermometers I broke (how did I know what the temperature of the
flame would be?)

At 22 I arrived in London and did a couple of office jobs before
deciding that I wanted to study in America. I tried to save money by
doing a part-time job in a bar. There I found plenty more glasses to
smash and the legend returned. I also got stressed about customer
service and would fret about any complaints or negativity from
patrons. So from 22 onwards, I began searching for answers.

This was 1994. The World Wide Web had just been invented by Sir Tim
Berners-Lee, so the days of Googling stuff had not arrived yet. So I
went to the library, read newspaper articles and tried to figure out
why I was so anxious.

At first, I tried man-made solutions. I investigated various
ideologies and pursued numerous ideas but nothing seemed perfect. There always
seemed to be at least one aspect of each one that I didn’t agree
with.

I became hazily aware that I was leaving religion on the table until
other options had been exhausted. I eventually became suspicious as
to why my brain seemed to be avoiding the topic. So one day I took a
walk down to the Fulham Road to browse through a bookshop. In there I
found a King James Bible. I flicked through it for maybe 20 minutes
or half an hour, then put it back. I remembered this book from my
childhood, when I had received a portion of it at school. I then put
it back on the shelf and left.

THAT WAS IT. That was the biggest defining moment of my life. It
doesn’t sound like much, does it? However, Jesus has had a profound
influence on my life since then.


A few weeks later, I went back to purchase that Bible. I took it
home and attempted to read it but it was hard-going. I decided to
focus on keeping the Ten Commandments. So began my walk with the
Lord.

I began to realize that these various things that had been happening
to me until then had come from God. When I accepted this, I was
implicitly consenting to the truth of this by virtue of the authority
of the One who sent them. This is FAITH.

At first, I was happy just to believe in God alone. I didn’t identify
with any particular religion. I began to wonder how much of my life
could be better if I followed His lead more carefully. I began to
submit my decisions to the Will of God. I listened to the Holy Spirit
in my heart and if I experienced a light, happy feeling, I took that
as a “yes”. A heavy, dark feeling meant “no”. I began
following the light, happy feelings exclusively and my life began to
improve.

As I put more and more trust in Him, He became more and more
trustworthy. Stuff that scared me before I no longer needed to worry
about. I began to lose my anxiety as I turned more and more things
over to Him.

After a while, I looked back and saw a path emerging that I hadn’t
noticed before. It had a holy feel to it, like I was becoming a
better person. I noticed that my friends were still doing the same
things as before and having the same troubles but I was moving out
and into something better.

There were times when God showed me some worrying things. Lessons I
was learning by following this path were not being learned by those
not following it. Doors open to me because I walked in faith were
unknown to others because they had no faith. They might never find or
experience that door. They were making costly mistakes that I had
avoided. They couldn’t see what I could see. I knew that if I tried
to explain it to them, they would think I was crazy. However, when I
saw them make those mistakes, I thought, “There but for the Grace
of God go I”.

I began to develop a brighter outlook, like the future would be good.
I began to feel that I would end up in Heaven if I continued this.
This is HOPE.

There were times when I stumbled and fell but God always gave me the
grace to get back up again. Grace is power from God to achieve things
that would be impossible to achieve if that power had not been given.
I was very grateful to receive this grace – it was very generous of
Him. I felt rather unworthy and was desperately afraid that I would
mess up really badly and lose everything I had ever worked for. Many
times when I goofed up, I assumed I had been forsaken and that it was
all over, only to find that still, small voice continuing in my
heart.

At other times, I’m sorry to say, I sinned against him – a
combination of resistance and feeling sorry for myself, like I was
irredeemable. On one occasion, I had behaved rather badly. I was
surprised to find myself rewarded by being invited to a slap-up steak
dinner. I felt completely unworthy and decided not to eat it, in
order to say sorry. “Eat it!” said my wife, who was also there.
So, unable to get out of it, I ate the steak and it was great. I felt
very grateful to God for His kindness, feeling rather vulnerable and
like a little kid who had just avoided a serious punishment.

There were many other similar examples after that, all with the same
moral to teach. I was someone special, someone worth caring about,
someone God wanted to spend time with, someone that was important. I
felt a lot of affection for the Lord until, one day, I realized this
affection had turned to LOVE.

So now my life has been transformed. I am now confident that I am
loved by God and this has allowed me to love others. I can now love
my wife, my son and my students, whose teacher I am and I believe I
have something to offer the world. I have now studied to become a
Life Coach and plan to use my experiences to help others. I believe I
have a voice in the world that other people need and want to hear. I
feel excited by my life and at the prospect of transforming the lives
of others.

My hope is that, in reading this account, you will both appreciate
why that visit to a bookshop turned out to be so important and
realize the steps that need to be taken to achieve the same results.
My fervent wish is that this story will inspire you to take the first
steps towards receiving this new life and being transformed into the
person you have always wanted to be, so that all your dreams come
true!

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- MARCUS AURELIUS

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