Thoughts On 125 Sundays

So following on from my post Thoughts On 125 Of Sobriety & Freedom, what follows every great milestone in my sober journey is the same anniversary of my first walk into Everyday Champions Church, my first by my own will that is.

When things went pear shaped here at home, I went on a drinking bender, following that painful Tuesday evening I began drinking more than ever, by this time I couldn’t stop myself, if I tried I ended up restlessly pacing the house, rubbing my hands together and scratching at my arms.  At work I was low, real low, I was close to tears most of the time and feeling more lost than I had ever felt in my life, I was a mess.

On the Thursday evening I was at the Architect’s and it wasn’t hard to see I wasn’t really with it, we discussed what was going on and I explained everything.  Then in my head I hatched this cunning plan, if I spoke to Gareth, Victoria’s Pastor, I could tell him how sorry I was and he could help talk Victoria around to trying to sort things out between us.

But then when I got home and once more tried not to drink, yet failed miserably and apologised to Victoria profusely as I walked out the house and to the shop to fetch more alcohol, I realised speaking to Gareth was the best idea I’d had in a long time, but the focus changed, no longer about Victoria, this was about me, I had lost control and I needed help.  I asked Victoria if it was okay with her if I spoke to Gareth, I was struggling and needed help, a request to which she agreed, I would never have gone to Gareth without asking her first.

Obviously the following Sunday was a big low point, that day I stood looking deep into my own dead eyes, seriously considering the end of everything.  The bright point of that day was when Victoria came home, she gave me Gareth’s number and said she had explained things to him, he would be expecting my call.

So the next day I made that call and met with Gareth.  When he came round he stated straight away that this meeting wasn’t about God or religion, it was about me getting whatever help I needed.  He asked questions and listen patiently to my broken answers, between all the tears and oh yes there were a lot of tears.

He spoke of one verse in the bible whilst he was with me, the story of Jesus calming the storm, he asked if I was okay with him praying for me, which I agreed to.  I mentioned how I felt I should have gone to Church the day before, he said I was welcome any time, even if I only wanted to sit quietly at the back.

So ten days later I took that last drink, then I felt like I was ready to give Church a try.  I didn’t really know what I was expecting, I spoke with Victoria the day before, said I was going and would make my own way.

That day I walked in nervous, afraid and unsure.  I took a seat quietly at the back, in fact I took the furthest seat from the stage I could find, a seat which I sat in every week for the next six months, until I joined the A.V. Team, my seat now is my camera station.

The day I chose to go, Gareth wasn’t there preaching, instead his father Ken was.  I stood silent and still through the worship, just observing all around me.  What Ken preached made  me feel straight away that there was a connection and I had found what I was looking for, he preached on the very same verse Gareth had spoke of, Jesus calming the storm, talking about the need to face the storms in our own lives, just as Gareth had spoken that night in my living room.  During the preach I got this immense feeling inside, a warm feeling in my chest, a kind of burning, I can’t remember how many times I cried during the services, it was a fair few.

One the way out I walked passed James, we had met just once before, at my house after Eve’s confirmation just one year before.  He recognised me from that one meeting and walked over to me, he asked why I was there and I told him everything.  We swapped numbers that day and over those first months, he would text me every few days to see how I was doing and indeed when I was struggling I texted him for help.  I am so thankful for that friendship, it helped me through some dark times in those early months, especially during the pain of withdrawals, when I was close to giving up, he was I rock that I needed to rest on.

But when I left Church that day I kind of knew that I had found what I needed.  The next Sunday was Easter Sunday and that was the day I raised my hand to accept Jesus into my life.  Having said that, I raised my hand over the next two weeks too, I felt like I wasn’t really getting what it all meant and that I wasn’t really doing what ever I was supposed to be doing correctly.  On that third time I met Jeremy for the first time, I remember telling him why I was there, I had made the choice that I wasn’t hiding who I was anymore, I was an alcoholic and I needed help, the Church’s help, I remember him distinctly saying that one day my testimony would help others in a similar situation find a way out too, I’m not sure he was referring to this Blog, but I know what he meant now.

I’ve had some amazing experiences and met some amazing people at Everyday Champions Church, there are too many people to mention individually, but needless to say everyone I have met have been so supportive, they have all held me up when I’ve needed support and picked me up when I have fallen.

One of the things I was most afraid of about walking into a Church, was as a sinner and an alcoholic I would face condemnation, be shunned or looked down upon, but not at the ECC, I could not have walked into a better place and found a group of better people to call my friends.

When I had the calling to be Baptised and if you don’t know the story of my Baptism, I say calling because I had not planned to be baptised, I put it off, feeling I didn’t really understand what it mean and I wasn’t really ready for it.  That day as I left for Church, I looked out at the weather and it looked like rain, I remember distinctly thinking to myself, I won’t take a coat, I’m not bothered if I get wet today.

Still I took that same seat in the same corner at the back of the Church, content to see what actually happened at Batpisms and what it meant.  Victoria and the kids weren’t there, they had gone to a family birthday party, so it was just me, watching, listening and learning.

Then after worship when Gareth stood up and said God had challenged him that someone in this Church would make a decision to be baptised today, he said he had never had anyone just do it on the day, but if someone did, they would find some clothes and towels, he didn’t know where from, but they would find something.

At that point, I froze in my seat, almost as if I was unable to breathe, I realised then that He was talking to me, I mean, not Gareth, but God, the feeling inside was unavoidable, I had never felt anything like it before or indeed since.

In the short break, I sat there, having this internal conversation:

”He’s talking to you, you know that don’t you?”
“Yes I know”
“So, are you doing this or not?”
“Oh yes!”

I found Gareth straight away, tapped him on the shoulder and just said “okay, where do I get a spare set of clothes!”  He was taken aback, shocked, but seemingly excited.

Later in the service they called up the three people who had actually made their decisions weeks before, they had prepared and drafted a testimony to be read out on stage.  At this point I wasn’t sure if I should be up there or not, Gareth didn’t call my name, I guess he thought I wouldn’t be prepared for that, so after another internal conversation, I stood up walked onto the stage and gate crashed the party.  I told everyone there my testimony and immediately felt like the chains had broken, freedom.

After being baptised, a towel appeared and a bag of clothes, I didn’t know where from at the time, but just as Gareth had said they would find something.  The only thing was, I had no spare underwear, so I put the dry trousers over my wet underwear, unfortunately my underpants soaked through to the trousers and it look suspiciously like I had wet myself!

I’ve had some great days in Church, that day of my Baptism probably being the best, but I’ve also had some low ones.  Now don’t get me wrong, this is nothing to do with the Church, the people or the services, this is me, when I’ve been at a real low, I tend to make my fear greater than my faith, then I just end up being a blubber mess once again.  But as always, there is always someone to throw an arm around me, to pray with me and encourage me.

On that day 125 weeks ago, I really didn’t know what to expect or what I would find, what I found was some amazing people, essentially a family and a home.

I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back, No turning back

I will follow You, I will follow You, I will follow You my God
I will follow You, I will follow You, I will follow You my God

Though none go with me still I will follow
Though none go with me still I will follow
Though none go with me still I will follow
No turning back, No turning back

I will follow You, I will follow You, I will follow You my God
I will follow You, I will follow You, I will follow You my God

The world behind me, the Cross before me
The world behind me, the Cross before me
The world behind me, the Cross before me
No turning back, No turning back

I will follow You, I will follow You, I will follow You my God
I will follow You, I will follow You, I will follow You my God
Yeah, I will follow you, my God

1 thought on “Thoughts On 125 Sundays

  1. leftnfree

    Wayne, I believe Jeremy is correct your testimony is going to free a whole lot of people… And I am not talking about your blog here but time when you are going to speak in a church your testimony and when you do I believe that Holy Spirit will have softened the heart for someone who will be experiencing something similar and also in how you felt about arriving at the church a sinner and fearful of being shunned. You have a very powerful testimony and it will bring God glory!!! It does now.. I also believe that time is not far off. (it will be in front of a lot of people.


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