The Story So Far – Chapter 9 – A New Home

CHAPTER 9 – A NEW HOME

So the next morning I got up and I got ready to go to Church, I had made the decision that now I had stopped drinking, it was time to make the next step and that was to walk into Church and see what it held for me.  This would be a ground breaking step for me, me the man who his whole life had avoided the place, every time I had been in Church it had been because I had no other option, I couldn’t avoid it, I had in essence been made to go, I never wanted to be there and I would never had been there had it been left to me.  But this morning I was making that bold step to walk into Church because I wanted to and I had chose to.

I was ready now, I had broke free of the chains of addiction, it was still a fight, still a battle and I needed help to keep going.  I felt I had shed most of the dirt that I was carrying from the old me.  I wasn’t really sure what Church was going to do for me, I had in all honesty quite enjoyed it last time I was there, but now I was actually nervous, even frightened of going, but I knew I had to, I knew it was where I needed to be.  I had spoken with Victoria the day before, let her know where I was with things and told her I was going to go to Church, I would be doing this for me and no other reason, it could easily have looked like I was trying to just impress her, but this was most definitely for me now, everything else would have to wait, there would be a time to deal with our relationship, but that was in the far distant future and even now three years on it remains that way still.  But now I was ready to experience God in a different way.  I knew he was answering my prayers, I began to sense that the music was no coincidence and I had even downloaded a bible app to my phone and had started to read from it, so this was the obvious next step.

I sent a text to Alex to let him know I was coming, I left it as late as possible to get there, I got there about ten minutes or so before the service started, I spoke to Alex on the way in and then went to find a seat.  I chose the seat furthest away from the stage, on the back row and last seat on the outside, the furthest away from everything was where I wanted to be, I didn’t really want people bothering me, so I went as far away from the crowds as possible.

I think there were a few odd looks form people as I walked in, I think a few people possibly recognised me, but weren’t sure who I was, surely it couldn’t be me in Church, surely he would never come to Church on his own, but I kept myself to myself, I spoke only to Victoria and Alex on the way in, that was the way I wanted it.

I stood when everyone else stood for worship, I just stood there as the band played, I read the lyrics from the screen over the stage, I looked around at what everyone else was doing, yet I stood the still, alone, hands stuffed deep into his pockets, I didn’t feel part of this, I didn’t feel comfortable, I was well and truly outside my comfort zone now, so I just kept looking around, watching, seeing what each and everyone was doing.

Gareth wasn’t there that week, he was at our other campus, instead preaching was his father, Pastor Ken.  I sat there listening to Ken, he has such a calm way of speaking, such a welcoming way, I sat there quietly listening.  The series they were running at the time focused on the miracles of Jesus from the Bible, I sat and listened, then Ken began to discuss the only verse of the Bible that Gareth had mentioned that night he came around, he didn’t just mention it, his whole preach was built around it in detail.  I can’t remember how many times I cried during his preach, I knew the relevance of what he was saying had to my life, he backed up exactly what Gareth had been saying and I knew I had to listen, I knew I had to take this in and put it into action in my life.  At some point during the preach something happened to me that at the time I couldn’t explain, I couldn’t work out what it was, I’ve had it many times since, I know what it means now, but on that day I wasn’t sure what it meant.  As I sat there I felt my heart freeze inside, as I say at the time I didn’t know what it meant, these days I get that feeling when I know I really have to listen and respond to what is being said, it’s a prompting from the Lord, but back then I didn’t know this.

During the time before the preach started, an older couple, John and Eve, had come and sat with me, we chatted and I explained why I was there.  It was at that point where I had to make a choice, keep hiding or be honest and be free.  I told them why, I told them about being an alcoholic and I was here to find a new way, a new life.  They were very welcoming, very supportive and very kind.  I’m sure that when I cried during the service that John had seen this, but he never mentioned it.

This put to bed one of my greatest fears about coming to Church, that I would not be accepted because of everything I had done, that as a sinner I would not be welcomed, I know it’s a prejudice that the media probably portray of the Church, these over the top born again Christians casting out sinners, but I couldn’t be further from the truth, no one I met that first day or spoke to about why I was there showed any sign of none acceptance, they offered their help in any way they could.

I spoke with a few people after the service, I can’t remember who, but I was not really in a mood for hanging around, so I made for the exit, on the way out I passed a guy call James.  I had met James just once, he sat in my front room the previous year, on the day of my daughter’s dedication, I had liked James from that meeting, I remember commenting to Victoria afterwards that he was the sort of guy I could really be friends with.  James remembered me, even after that first meeting, he asked how I was and why I was here, so I began to tell him, not the abbreviated version of few words that I had told everyone else earlier in the day, this time a pretty comprehensive version, naturally I broke down into tears a few times during the telling, but he was so kind, so friendly.  He gave me his mobile number and took mine, he told me to keep in touch and contact him if I needed help.  Over the next few months I got texts each week from James, asking how I was doing, chatting about football and other things we had in common, from that day we became good friends.

But there was something that definitely happened that day in Church, I may not of understood that feeling, but I knew I was in the right place, it was like I knew I was at home, I maybe felt a little uncomfortable at some of the aspects of being in Church, but it really felt like I had found where I needed to be.  All those old prejudices about Church had been blown away, they didn’t matter anymore, because God had led me here and I felt at home here already, I was definitely coming back next week.

On Monday morning as I was walking to work a song came on my iPod, I was already feeling really encouraged from the day before, but as this song began to play I recognised it from somewhere.  I know I had heard it before on my iPod, probably a number of times, but I recognised it from somewhere else, then it dawned on me, I realised that this song they actually sang in Church the day before, it was one of the worship songs the bang played, I just felt it was another reminder, another message that I had found the place I needed to be.

The next week went by without any significant incident, I went to work, I worked on those small daily changes, I taught karate and still I went to the pub after wards, but I never drank, just the lime and soda, it would become my drink of choice in the pub.  I remember that first Tuesday after I quit drinking, walking into the pub and up to the bar, I was considered a local and all the staff knew what I drank, so when I got the bar one of the barmen had already started to pull my usual pint of cider, I stopped him straight away, told him my new drink of choice and that was that, it happened that way over the next few weeks, until everyone behind the bar came to know that lime and soda was my new usual and it was staying that way.

The next Sunday was Easter Sunday, I went to Church once again, this time there was no fear or apprehension, no inner struggle as to whether this was the right thing to do or not, I knew it was and off I went.

When I walked in, many people began to recognise me now, a few had realised I was there last week and came to talk, I began to explain to some of these people the situation, they were shocked they knew nothing of what was going on, but they offered me all the support I could want if I needed it.

I took the very same seat as the week before, this seat I would take every week over the next few months, it became my seat, everyone would come to know where I sat, people tried over the coming months to get me to move forward or sit with them, but I refused, I always returned to this seat.

As I sat there Gareth’s wife came past, she walked by, did a double take and then she realised who I was.  I had met Leanne just the once before, once again when she sat with me in my room on the day of my daughter’s dedication, she immediately came over for a chat.  Obviously she knew the situation and that I had met with Gareth, how much of the story she knew I didn’t know, but I wasn’t bothered any way, I distinctly remember her saying how good it was to see me smiling, her smile and her words made me feel further at home.

A few moments later Gareth came by, he seemed so pleased to see me, he didn’t realise that I had been there the week before, but was so glad I was there now.  We spoke for a minute or two, he then promised to catch up with me over a coffee after the service.

Again during the worship I stood there motionless, hands in my pockets, only my head and my eyes moved as the scanned the room trying to take everything in once more.  Just like the previous Sunday John and Eve came and sat with me, we chatted for a while, it was really quite comforting that they came to sit with me again.

I really enjoyed Gareth’s preach, he discussed miracles as it was the current series, but he went on to talk about how many Christians feel that miracle in their life, that life changing moment, but never follow it up.  He explained that we are all running a miracle marathon, the miracle is just the start, we have to keep running the marathon.  I remember writing in my journal that night this I was at the start of my miracle marathon, I had felt that miracle moment in my life, it had changed me, but I was in for the marathon, I was there until the end.

At the end of the preach Gareth asked for everyone to close their eyes and he started to pray, he asked for those who were new to Church, but felt ready to accept Jesus into their lives to raise their hand and he would pray for them, I knew by this time that I was ready and I raised my hand, I had accepted a life with Jesus.

I chatted with a number of people that day, including catching up with both Alex and James, I enjoyed speaking with every one of them.  I also spoke with a number of people I didn’t know too and each one seemed so nice, I continued my honesty approach and everyone was really supportive, the more I spoke with people, the more I appreciated that I was in the right place.

Over the coming Sunday’s I met some great people, all of which became really good friends and so supportive, never any condemnation, only encouragement and compassion, especially if I broke down into tears as I spoke with them.  For the next two weeks I raised my arm in response, somehow I felt like I was quite doing things right, I knew I was in the right place, I knew it felt like home, I but I didn’t feel like a Christian yet, so I raised my hand a few times.  On the third time I met Jeremy, we talked for a while as I explained what was going on in my life and what had brought me to Church, I distinctly remember Jeremy saying never to worry about what I had been through, because one day someone would walk into this Church, struggling with exactly the same thing, but my story, my testimony would be there to help them, it could make the difference in their lives.  From that point I was convinced I was in the right place, I didn’t need to raise my hand after that, something just clicked after meeting Jeremy and I was definitely home and Jesus was definitely with me.

GUIDE YOU HOME by REMEDY DRIVE
Has your love run dry?
A flower under the desert sky
Withered before your eyes

Have your flood walls failed?
Built so high still the storm prevailed
The water rises to your soul

If you’re a ship and you’re lost in the ocean
I’ll be the wind in your sails give you motion
I will guide you home

If you’re too far out that you can’t see the shoreline
I’ll be the light house shining in the night time
I will guide you home

Is your compass wrong?
Misplaced trust for far too long
Off track and you can’t get back

Did you lose your calm?
You’re not sure where but you know it’s gone
It’s a sad, sad song playing in your soul

If you’re a ship and you’re lost in the ocean
I’ll be the wind in your sails give you motion
I will guide you home

If you’re too far out that you can’t see the shoreline
I’ll be the light house shining in the night time
I will guide you home, I will guide you home

When the night is long
When the storm is strong
I will guide you
I will guide you home

When the night is long
When the storm is strong
I will guide you
I will guide you home

If you’re a ship and you’re lost in the ocean
I’ll be the wind in your sails give you motion
I will guide you home

If you’re too far out that you can’t see the shoreline
I’ll be the light house shining in the night time
I will guide you home

When the night is long
When the storm is strong
I will guide you
I will guide you home

When the night is long
When the storm is strong
I will guide you
I will guide you home

3 thoughts on “The Story So Far – Chapter 9 – A New Home

  1. Beverley

    Oh wow, sorry but I just have to reply, I’m sitting here at 1.42am in the morning soaking in your every word. This post is so emotional I had to shed a tear, I’m so excited for you and our journey started the same time with vast similarities. You have done so well this is a testimony and a half… I’m so excited to see what God has planned for you. 🙂

    Reply

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