Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What Has Gone Before.

Recent events have caused me some anger towards certain other Christians; my annoyance at being misunderstood has caused me to look at what I can do to work something positive out about showing people who I am in context with where I have been... because I suppose it's either that or just sit and get consumed by anger, which is neither Godly or productive. With this in mind I thought that I would give a reasonably full and frank summarised account of the major events that have shaped my life and walk with God up until now. Normally I would hold back on some things, or use allegory to convey them. I have touched upon many of things in part during the length of my blogging experience. However, I think the time has come to just say it like it has been.

I was born on the 21st November 1974 at 6:40pm, just 50 minutes before the Birmingham pub bombings - the worst mainland attack by the IRA during their campaign of terror. You might think that would have little bearing on me as a person... but for some reason, the fact that over 20 people were killed and many people injured during the hour of my birth - it mattered to me as a child when I later became aware of it.

As a 1 year old, I was well advanced in my progress both in speech and mobility... and most tellingly of all... in terms of my curiosity. Tragically just before my second birthday I managed to scald myself badly - leaving a significantly sized scar on my chest. This resulted in months of pain (fortunately I am consciously unaware of this, though I fear one day the memory may come back), both for myself and my parents. It also resulted in me withdrawing completely. I had to learn to walk and talk all over again and I was socially a bit of an outsider.

Throughout my childhood, God was close and I was subconsciously responding to him but despite being raised in an Anglican household... I had a lot to learn about true faith. I was sent to Roman Catholic school because the level of RE was thought to be better. Where most young people become resentful, I thrived in this environment because the slightly different culture helped me raise important questions and comparisons about what I believed at an early age.

Before my teens, I didn't really care much about my scar but as I grew more conscious of it... I determined to hide it away all the more... because I could. The same could not be said for the psychological problems I developed in response to this. My self esteem was pretty low, I was very self conscious and a fussy eater and because I was afraid of people hurting me.... I projected a persona of myself that was not a true reflection of who I really was... which led to me being isolated as an individual.

God resolved to change my heart, first by convicting me of my sins at a Billy Graham rally in 1989 (when I had started attending a local youth fellowship). When I went up to pray, I didn't tell the guy I was praying with some of the things I'd done because I was ashamed... but the important thing was that I told God.

A few miles down the road and the year is 1991. I have left school for exam leave. I read a scripture in Mark's gospel that I misunderstand completely. The enemy used this as an opportunity to torment me... but little did either of us know - he was playing directly into God's hands. For three months I struggle with my personal torment, struggling in my own strength and bearing the burden alone. Then one day at a beach mission, I become sensitive to little things. People kept telling me to shut up and on one occasion on a Thursday it gets too much and I break down in tears. God drew near to me at this point and revealed his authority. It was then that I realised for the first time that God wasn't just saviour... he was sovereign too. He had used my suffering to break down a wall in my heart. Not only did this allow God to come in much closer, but it paved the way for others to do likewise. Unfortunately their perception of me was largely based on my defensive behaviour. Still, importantly a few really good close friends stood by me and began to help me to grow out of my protectionist attitude towards myself.

It was at this time that the enemy embarked on a new strategy. I ended up going out with somebody who was not all they appeared to be. They had self esteem issues and though they claimed to be Christian, in hindsight it became apparent to me that her faith was just a crutch until something or someone more tangible came along... unfortunately that person was me. Within a year, after things had become serious... she had surrendered her faith. I should have seen that as a warning sign... but I tried to do the noble thing, I stood by her in the hope that I could restore her to faith. She became more demanding of my time and resources and I was asked tough questions about what I believed was a righteous course of action. I just about managed church and a fellowship group once a week.

Now we come to the hardest part of that dark chapter for me. Though I myself did not yield to temptation to sleep with the girl... she developed a friendship with somebody else... one that resulted in her sleeping with him. Now most people would have wised up at this point. Not me, I was stubborn - still I felt that I could use the situation to God's glory, by demonstrating forgiveness, I could demonstrate God's abundant grace. So I continued on in a fruitless relationship. I didn't really tell anyone, I felt it best to keep the nature of what she'd done quiet. I did however persuade her to talk to a mutual friend who she trusted.... should have known better there too. She developed a crush on him... and in his weakness, he didn't distance himself... just waited to see how things would develop.

This episode does not end in sadness however.... once again, God intervened directly in the most spectacular and wonderful way. After seven years, she had to go to America to see her brother get married... mercifully I am fearful of flying and remained home. It was during those two weeks that God enabled me to enjoy life to the maximum. He even sent a rock band to play "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd at a local street market and this song really spoke to me. When she came back she decided she might like to return to America in a year's time... but there was nothing over there for me and she was not a good enough reason in her own right. Furthermore i would not wait a year to see if she did go. The final straw came when she seemed to be displaying affection for one of the in-laws. I'd seen where that road went and I wanted no more part of it.

That very night I was free and I NEVER looked back once. I was like a drowning man coming up for air... having been burdened so heavily for so long, I ended up practically flying. Instead of feeling grieved I felt relieved... and God blessed me immensely at that time.

I made a commitment to God that still stands today - as grievous as it might be to me I would rather spend my days alone than have another relationship that did not honour God. I had no right to expect favours having erred so badly in that area of my life. It was in that period that he reassured me that he'd been waiting for me to say that... that he would point me towards the right people.

I showed interest in another girl (in response to a dream I had - crazy huh?), who I'd never have gone for... but God took the opportunity away and convicted me using the story of David's failed attempt to recover the Ark of the Covenant in scripture as an example.

Shortly after this I became much more pro-active in my faith, becoming involved in spiritual teaching and Scripture Union Camp. God gave me a vision on one Palm Sunday - a two edged sword being drawn from it's scabbard and a voice saying "Take up my burden", during the same service I later found out that someone else in church had been given a scripture where God sends prophets to go and kill the idolaters - make of that what you will.

I had one more failed dalliance in relationships, where a friend palmed me off on a girl who was keen on him... because he was dating someone else. Yet he complicated things by openly flirting with the same girl and not being honest about the fact he was in a relationship - same friend as before by the way. Eventually he broke free of that relationship and continued flirting with the girl... I knew she held a candle for him, so I just let it go... I had to - it was made clear when I was ignored during a Christmas party.

None of that matters now really... because that was the final chapter before I began blogging. Today I find an outlet for my creativity and my angst... I get to share my thoughts, beliefs and ideas and I hope and pray God uses what I say for his glorification.

I would say that the difference between the Nick of old and the Nick of new is that I don't really have any walls any more.... this in the long term is good, but it does mean that I'm oversensitive to the smallest things - I can't not feel! This is something God is challenging in me during these days.

I have to say, I feel a lot better having got all this off my chest. I pray for the day when God will release me from all my fears and pray that he changes my attitudes daily.

You might get the impression that I'm negative having read a lot of that... but past is merely prologue, the best is yet to come. I have my detractors and the enemy uses many to destroy or delay the work God started in me... but there is no plan, no scheme of man or hell that can succeed against the Lord.

God bless you all

Nick

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