It’s time you knew

This morning I awoke, knowing that I had nearly forgotten to attend a meeting to prepare for my church’s forthcoming Alpha course.
I didn’t really want to go. In fact I’d never have volunteered myself as a helper if my priest hadn’t put my name on the list. I was honoured when he asked, but soon my old selfishness came into play. I knew most of my morning would be ‘gone’ and I had so many other things to do. Of course I’d keep God in mind but sometimes I just wanted to do things my way. Just like I disliked being interrupted by personal phone calls when I was at work, or being told it was time for dinner when I had a tune in my head – my flow of thought was interrupted!
Discouraged by the turnout at the last Alpha I helped out at, and remembering how some of us were chastened for not being hospitable enough, I only wanted to think of the good times I had at my own first Alpha – when participants came from all over the world and viewpoints were diverse and conversation was exhilarating – often going past the 10pm mark.
While I grew closer to the community and immersed myself in activities, I didn’t want to know what church politics was going on in the background – but I would hear about it often enough to make me uncomfortable.
I joined a cell group after Alpha and had mixed feelings about it, largely because attendance was mandatory and it was implied we weren’t devoted enough to God – when sometimes I really had other things on that evening that were difficult to get out of. As a new Christian it was extremely pressurising for me, especially when the rest of the family wasn’t Christian and felt I was being unfaithful to them when I didn’t join them for dinner! There didn’t seem to be a soft option – nobody seemed happy with me, whatever I did.
So I spent most of my early days as a Christian, immersed in feelings of guilt, unworthiness and frustration, doing things I didn’t really want to do, and pretending that I wanted to, because I didn’t want to appear unfaithful to God.
Demoralised, I turned inward. I was a zombie in Church, absent in mind when the sermon got boring. I did not want to tell many people, especially new believers and freethinkers, that I was weakening spiritually. At night my prayers were asking for forgiveness and guidance and for the re-filling of the Holy Spirit. On good days, I’d testify to people with the Good News and give thanks when something good happened. Other days I’d just keep quiet because I did not want to discourage other people, to taint them with my cynicism.
In the darkness of all this, I headed off to church this morning, slightly late as I had for the first time misplaced my car keys. Part of me didn’t want to go, wanting to use my absent-mindedness as an excuse to not show up. But it was a duty I was given, and I respected my priest too much to renege on my promise.
However the moment I stepped into the room, already filled with the sounds of worship singing, I felt different. These were good people – those who were trying to hold things together, who fought to put Alpha back on our church roster, who were trying to book better rooms so participants wouldn’t get bitten by mosquitoes like the last time…
I joined in the singing and listened to their discussions, chipping in every now and then when I had something useful to offer. They were so experienced and well-meaning – how could I possibly be worthy enough to help out in Alpha? I was a self-centred workaholic who couldn’t remember people’s names – and now I had to know enough about each participant to pray for their individual needs? I couldn’t possibly do that in a way that glorified God!
When it came to the end of the discussion, we closed with the usual prayers, open to anyone in the group who felt led by the Spirit to say something.
Now usually when I’m with elders I never dare to speak because their prayers are so wholistic, holy and mature that mine would pale in comparison. No, it isn’t about using big words, but many times I felt insincere, above all, and knew that God could read what was really going on in my heart. I’d often be thinking, “Oh get on with it, I need to go home / do some work / write some music, and why can’t we manage our time better, you said it would end at 10pm but it always drags on to 11 or midnight…”
But this morning felt different. After several people prayed, I felt so strongly compelled to burst out with what was really going on deep in my heart. For the first time, in a group of elders, I spoke out in prayer.
I prayed first for protection against the Evil One, be it spiritual or physical, as illnesses or distractions at work and at home. Some people said ‘Amen’ in support.
As my eyes were closed I started to see a light, a strong flickering light. This is the light I always see when certain people (like GT) pray. I last saw it at my house blessing last December. This was the first time it appeared when I prayed and I knew it was because I was finally praying from the bottom of my heart. (No, I was not facing a window)
The light got stronger and stronger as I continued praying – for the protection to extend to all members of our church, and that our church would be united again. The ‘Amens’ were so loud and unanimous I could almost detect a voice of triumph in them, that someone had finally acknowledged it openly.
Tears were flowing down my face, uncontrollably, and I wiped them off with my hands. A couple more people prayed, and after that I went to wash my face. I was overcome.
And now I feel a little different, lightheaded perhaps. I no longer feel weary from the little sleep I had. I dared to pray aloud, and I dared to openly talk about issues that were disturbing me. Like a pent-up dam that finally broke forth – represented by my sudden wash of tears.
Have a blessed day ahead of you.


  1. acaseofyou

    wow, that was really…i dont know what to say. for my whole life, I’ve been trying to achieve that state. but, i can’t, or i don’t want it hard enough, i dont know which. it sounded like you were born again, baptised again..

  2. anonymous coward

    Somehow stumbled across your blog. Seems like God is reminding something.
    I was baptised round the same time as you. But sadly my family still do not know. Still summing the courage to do so.
    Had also attended Alpha and helped in it ,even led one group. Yet I feel I’m sliding eachday.
    Thanks for your blog, it is a timely reminder.

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