A couple of weeks ago, I worked out that for half my life exactly, I have been a disciple, a follower of Jesus.
That means that for half my life I’ve had one, excellent friend. I’ve been able to seek a true peace when no earthy peace could be found. My slight hiccups, mild dramas and utter disasters alike have been forgiven.
For half my life, I’ve known that the heart that cries for the poor and breaks watching Comic Relief is not soft, or daft, or something to be embarrassed by. Instead, a broken heart like that is something of value.
For half my life, colours have been brighter and although the storms have been much more violent, they have never been permanent.
For half my life, my mistakes have been greater, and yet, I have been loved as much as ever.
On 24th March 2006, at my 13th birthday party, I stood in a room full of my friends and for some crazy reason, I was thinking about Jesus. ‘Why am I thinking about this now?!’ I asked myself. Then it clicked. The penny dropped. I got it.
It’s Good Friday because something truly good happened. Jesus’ death was not simply sad and painful, but it was a death with a purpose. It was a death for me.
Sometimes people say to me ‘I’m not very religious…’ and my instinct is to say ‘me neither’ and then I remember the dog collar around my neck! To me, the word religious implies something that is stuffy, ritualistic and restrained by rules. That’s not what my life feels like. I don’t see myself as a religious person.
Instead, I am a follower of someone who knows me and loves me, who frees me to be myself and releases me to enjoy the world. My faith feels like a wild garden with tall grass and flowers which is ever growing, developing and rippling in the wind. Something organic, not restrained.
Reflecting on the change that took place half my lifetime ago, I am really grateful for God’s faithfulness. It’s not that he wasn’t faithful before my 13th birthday party disco, but I have the eyes to see his faithfulness more clearly since deciding to follow him for myself.
Faith has changed my perspective on things. It’s not just that I’ve grown up in thirteen years, it’s something more than that. Through prayer, I am continually transformed. It’s slow work, and I definitely take several steps back sometimes!
But Jesus is the light in the darkness, the anchor in the storm, the sparkling stream in the desert who has, does, and will keep me going.