I grew up in a Catholic family, well my father was a devout Catholic and he took care of the spiritual aspects of our young lives. Mum was Church of England but not a practicing one. All of my schooling was undertaken in Catholic Schools, firstly at St Joseph’s Convent and then at St Edmunds Christian Brothers College until I graduated Year 12 in Ipswich in Queensland.
My brother and sister and I practiced the Catholic faith and I did all the things that Catholics did back then, I went to church with Dad every Sunday, our school attended Mass during the week, I learned the Catechism and I generally played by the rules. In Year 12, I walked 4 miles every morning to go to Church to pray I would pass my Senior [year 12] exams, even as a Catholic He heard my prayers!
However, it would not be true to say that I had any knowledge of the Bible and I did not have a real understanding of God or His place in my life, except that I knew He had created everything, He had a human Son Jesus who died for my sins and rose again, and He would consign me to eternal fire if I didn’t play by the rules. In other words, I knew the Catholic basics but didn’t know God.
When I left school and moved away to University, I moved far away from even the Catholic practice. Over the next 30+ years [I know, I can’t be that old!!], I am embarrassed to say there wasn’t much in the rule-book I didn’t try. I went to Church to attend my sister’s wedding and my mother’s funeral and not much else. Despite this, I can look back and believe that God nevertheless had His hand on me. There are very clear memories of three times when I put myself in mortal danger and had He called me then, my soul’s destination would have been quite certain. Â Instead He kept His hand on me and I survived my recklessness.
I really came to the Lord through my acquaintance with Lyn and through the sound counseling of Chaplain Noel Williams in the RAAF. Between them, they helped me realize that I really didn’t know God, and that I should. Of course, He was also at work and I understood for the first time what His love and peace meant. Â I felt His strength in being able to face and overcome temptation and His forgiveness when I stumbled. He certainly took me from the miry clay.
I was baptized into the Lord in 1998, one of the grape harvesters who arrived at the eleventh hour! This was a joyful event and I was blessed to receive the Holy Spirit at the same time. His forgiveness and strength overwhelmed me, and I spoke in tongues as I came up from the baptism waters [in Deirdre’s spa].
I have continued to receive the blessings of the Lord since then. I am blessed with an amazing Christian wife; we have been blessed to travel to places where we have been welcomed into wonderful fellowships with committed Christians and seen and been part of His work and we have been blessed to be able to contribute to that work. On our travels we have been quite overwhelmed many times by the work of His fingers. At home, we have been blessed with a fellowship that is based solidly on His Word and the revelations He continues to share. From this and my own 1000 fold increase in reading His Word, I know He is a God of love who works for good in all of us who believe and follow His Son’s example. Sometimes He seems a long way off but that is undoubtedly me, and I know that He is still reachable. Â I praise and thank Him for His faithfulness in the face of my failings.