An Unexpected Encounter

More and more over the recent weeks and months I have found myself being drawn back to my roots – back to a world that I thought I had left behind a long, long time ago. Over the last few years I have felt my relationship with God becoming deeper – I have felt the liberty to explore a relationship and a friendship that I thought had disappeared long ago. Through many of the deeply uncomfortable experiences of recent years – relationship pain, financial difficulties, crises of confidence – I have been brought face to face with my God again in a whole new way.

Through studying and learning from many of today’s teachers, visionaries like Neale Donald Walsch, Marianne Williamson, Esther Hicks, Rev. Julie Wilbourne and many more, and through walks by the river, in the park, around the streets of the city, through walks in the rain and the storm, through conversations with friends, I have come back to a new and clearer relationship with a God that I thought had vanished from my life – but who I am certain is alive and in charge of what’s going on on this planet, in this universe, and in my life. I’ve learnt to surrender to God in so many ways – to hear his voice, to sense his directing me in a certain way. And for that – well, I am truly grateful, and really blessed.

And yet over the last few months, I have found another relationship calling to me. Another part of my spiritual walk that I thought had been left behind, something that I had grown out of, that had served me in my youth – and yet I had seen through the myth and the legend, and had moved on.

And yet, still, this voice continued to call to me. This name continued to pop up, continued to face me at every turn. In everything that I studied, everything I learnt, there seemed to be a common thread… a common factor. Sometimes explicit, sometimes standing in the background – and yet ever present, continuing to challenge me to face that relationship again – to re-open a conversation that I had thought long past.

And yet, as I continued to pray, to meditate, to learn, I realised that this was the route to power, the route to love, the route to freedom. While the relationship with God was core to who I was, I needed a model, someone who would show me how to live that life – what it truly meant to be in a relationship with God. And for me, that brought the presence of Jesus back into my life.

I didn’t expect that. I left the Christian church in despair and despondency. I had become a Christina aged around 17 following a dramatic encounter with what seemed to be very real supernatural forces at a Methodist retreat. I had fallen in love with a beautiful Christian woman (who I later, to my eternal regret, broke up with as her path deepened and mine didn’t). I studied as a Methodist lay preacher, and became increasingly trusted as a ‘leader in training’. During university years, I became part of the ‘charismatic movement’ – a grass roots movement that believed that the power of the Holy Spirit still moves on the earth, and that wonders and signs were available to all who were ‘baptised with the Spirit’. I was baptised by full immersion in a church in London (strictly speaking, twice – a little old lady at the back shouted “his head’s still dry – it’s the mind that’s got to go under”… so they threw me in again).

I became leader of the University Christian Union – a surprise to me, and even more of a surprise to the rather stuffy governing body for university Christian Unions, when I and my precious group of fellow leaders transformed the CU into something full of light and joy rather than a bible study group.

After university I found a lively spirit filled local church and became part of the leadership team, throwing myself into creating a new way of living a Christian life – following the Master, Jesus, and seeking to live by his love and his example.

And then it all fell apart. My marriage (which had been the first in that church) fell apart. I felt lost, alone, trapped, afraid – and disconnected from God, from the Spirit of God, and from Jesus. Everything that I had followed for years crumbled around me, and I walked quietly and sadly away from the faith that had fed me – convinced that it was untrue – or, at the very least, that I would never find the way.

Although my marriage did eventually fall apart, I found success in work and in friendships – and in my love for my children. I continued to work on myself, and after a while I began to seek a new spirituality – one that left behind the traditions that I had rejected, yet was fresh and new. I began to study the world of self development through seminars and books, workshops and in private conversations – until I decided to go it alone to create my own business. And yet, that too failed after a few years, leaving me in debt, lost, alone… and brought back, face to face with my God. As I walked in the early hours of the morning, wrapped up against the cold and drinking coffee to keep warm, I learned to put my trust in a God who loved me and cared for me – I learned to to have faith that I was being cared for, and that everything would be OK.

But still no sign of the mysterious Jesus that had been core to my early beliefs. No sign of a demand that ‘no man comes to the Father but by me’. No indication that ‘only through Christ Jesus may you be saved’. In fact, much of the content I had read, the learnings and teachings that had been part of my new spiritual life, seemed to show that all spiritual paths led to the same God. I could not believe in a God who would reject people and ‘cast them into everlasting darkness’ simply because they had never heard of Jesus. I couldn’t believe in a God who would make the entry requirements to Heaven so strict that few could find them.

Even so, there was still this presence in my life. Still this knowledge that Jesus was there. Waiting to be acknowledged. Waiting to stand by my side. Waiting for me to follow him again.

Over the last few weeks I have been certain of the presence of Jesus in my life again. I’ve found that he has been restored as a teacher in my life, as a supernatural being, and as my friend. Through working with Julie Wilbourne and through messages and through teachers that I have encountered, it has become clear that I need to pay attention to the man from Nazareth again – to sit at his feet, to welcome his friendship – and to allow myself to follow his path. And as I do that, then the Holy Spirit of God will fill me in new ways – restoring the years the locusts have eaten in my financial affairs, and in my relationships – but more importantly in my gift, in my faith, and in my power and presence as a man of God.

Now, there’s so much I don’t yet ‘get’ about what that means, yet, but I know I’m learning. I’m not about to walk back into the traditional Christian church – whether with the traditionalists of High Anglican and Roman Catholic, or the family focus of many of the younger churches. I don’t believe that the only way to God is through Jesus. And I know that I have to find my own belief, my own understanding of the nature of Jesus – not simply to cling blindly to someone else’s dogma.

So that seems to be the path that I am on – to renew the relationship with Jesus that I thought was long behind me. To follow in his footsteps, to become, as Julie put it, a ‘registered disciple’, ready to learn, and follow – to look to Jesus’ example of how to live his relationship with God every day. It’s not really for me to know what that means in terms of a ‘ministry’ – although I believe it will be part of that. It’s not for me to know what it means in terms of what I create, what I write: although I suspect that much of my gift to this world will be to reveal a new way of walking with the Son of God. I don’t want to ‘reveal the historical Jesus’. I simply know that I want to love him, to follow him, to understand him – and to live by his example.

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