I sat at the breakfast table…
I think I was in year ten. February. 7th.
In front of me was a woman who had become a good friend. Her older body had been wrecked over and over by cancer the last couple of years, and there were days where she didn’t make it to breakfast.
Her pain ravaged face got my eye contact and seemed to stare into my soul.
I don’t remember who else was in the room, all i remember was what she said.
‘Jeremy, last night was one of the most painful nights of my life. I didn’t sleep, it was awful. But last night was nothing compared to what eternity without God will be. You don’t have to answer now, but by the end of the day I need you to tell me
why you aren’t a Christian.”
It was a shock. Like a blunt instrument. No one had presented life to me like that. I had grown up in a christian household and as i unpacked it in my brain that day and that night and ever since then, I’ve come to some conclusions about my thinking up until that point. But in that moment it got my attention. It gave me strangely needed perspective.
Something in me had come to the verdict that a Christian, a full member in the kingdom of God, needed to be good. And at that stage I was involved in some non good stuff, so there was no chance that i was good enough belong to Jesus. That said, I still felt like I would get there, it just wasn’t yet. It wasn’t that day at all. It wasn’t the day of perfection.
Most of my countrymen in Australia that I have come into contact with are in a similar position. We think that Christian stuff is just for the “good” people. Or the insane. And we are definitely neither of those right? We are both sane and bad. In fact we begin to revel in our ‘badness’, we wear it like a suit of armour. We keep love away from us, we desert community for our own plans, we don’t and then can’t take compliments and so even our view of ourselves gets destroyed by the suit of armour of unbelonging.
So, during that day, the fear of hell got to me. I may not be good enough to get into the kingdom, but i definitely do not want to spend the rest of eternity in a fiery lake. And as i sat on the blue picnic table that i usually used to crack many jokes with my friend matt, i began to ask
what is stopping me from becoming a Christian?
By the end of the day i came up with nothing and so i walked home kinda nervous. Not really knowing what to expect.
I walked into the house (probably after being scared to death by my mother jumping out from behind one of the many doors before i got to my room) then I ended up sitting down in the lounge room in front of the tired-looking, but joy fueled woman who had started my thought flooded day.
To make a long story short, in the midst of the the conversation, something clicked in me. I need this. I need to have whatever it is that gets me in. I couldn’t explain it in words even to my mother. But we organised a group of us to go to the local river in the night. Strangely cold for the 7th of February, but, surrounded by loving faces my father baptised me and i gave my life to God.
Coming out of the waters i was so disoriented it took me a second to recognise that it was my Dad hugging me. I was the last of his children to take the plunge. I still didn’t understand grace at the moment, i didn’t understand the gospel story at all, I just understood – that whatever i was on earth for, it included this step.
Since that day i have learned a lot about God and his church and hell and why we exist. Things i feel like if i went back in time – that whole day would have been different and a lot earlier. I understood without understanding – grace, very early on in my life because of my parents. How they represented God and lived with us. But it took a moment of pressure for me to think clearly.