Tag Archives: I Have Decided

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 by STARFIELD
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

Reflections On Accepting Christ One Year Ago

So today was the last of a series of great anniversaries, which map out the beginning of this wonderful journey that started in March last year.  After quitting drinking a walking into Church the week before, I walked into Church a year ago for the second consecutive week.  After that first visit I was obviously more comfortable with attending Church, so a year ago I took that second walk as described in my journal.

I know technically it’s a full year tomorrow, but as today is Sunday, I’m going to celebrate today, it seems more fitting.

Sunday 8th April 2012

“Well what a day, started with breakfast, a bath, shave etc, dressed and ready.  Work to do later, so I start with trying to set up the new laptop ready to work on later, not that straight forward but okay, setup most of the software needed, just got to copy the library from the old laptop, I’ll do that later, time for Church first.

No inner struggle today, straight there and straight in today, a lot more faces looking at me in confusion today, then realisation, “yes it is Wayne and yes he is here”.  First Mel and Martin on the way in, Annie had told them I was there last week, but still a look of surprise and a hug from Mel, that was nice, I don’t know them that well, quick chat with James, fill him in on my week, quick hello to Alex and then take the same seat as last week.  Then Ceri Lennon, briefly explain why and what’s happened and a caring pat on the shoulder from Cere, nice again.  Then Leanne (Gareth’s wife), she really had to look hard, then it dawned on her, again she was pleased to see me, it seems Gareth has filled her in, I told her how I was doing, she said she was pleased and glad I was smiling, these people I know only briefly, but there seems to be no judgement here, just understanding and caring encouragement.  Quick hello from Nick, then Gareth comes over, again surprise, he wasn’t aware I’d been there last week, filled him in on my progress, he’s well pleased, promised me a coffee later.  Then John and Eve came and sat next to me again, glad to see I’d returned after last week.  More hellos from some others I sort of know or they know me I should say, then the services starts and I feel more relaxed this week, still not ready to sing out loud, raise my hands or dance yet, but the foot was tapping and the head was nodding this week.  Some songs from last week and some new ones, I’ll get to know the words eventually I’m sure.

The “Everything” performance was nice, I nearly burst into tears when the temptation of the wine came out, I could relate to that, been there done that one, don’t go there girl!  Gareth’s part, the sermon or whatever was good, I understand everything he’s saying without needing to understand the Bible too much, it’s true, I’ve had my little Miracle moment, but I have to stay in there for the miracle marathon, it’s what I’m doing, I’m not fixed or well yet, there’s a long way to go, I’ve got to stay there for the rest of the marathon, I’m still with the fun runners at the back, just crossing the start line, I’ve got another 26.2 miles to go yet!!!

Then the big point of the day, Gareth’s prayer, he asked us all to close our eyes and bow our heads, then he prayed, he asked those that were new to Church to raise their hand if they wanted to live their life with Jesus in their life, I raised my hand, I was ready.  Another song and the service was over.

My raising of my hand didn’t go unnoticed, as the service ended a lady called Alison came over, her job was to talk to those who raised their hand.  I explained why I was here, she took my details, gave me some details for Alpha Group and a New Testament, a prayer and then we move to the coffee room.

Firstly a quick chat with Sally (Alex’s wife), never really spoken with her before, but she was aware of the situation and again very understanding, no judgement, just pleased I was turning it all around.  Then another chat with John and Eve, whilst Gareth went to get me a coffee, John had worked out I had raised my hand and was pleased, he offered his help in anyway, this really is the right place to be, quick hello from Lisa, still not had a chat with her, not sure she knows the situation or not really.

Nice chat over coffee with Gareth, he had seen my hand raised, I didn’t think he would have missed it, I bet he looked over to me first!  He’s pleased with where I am and happy with my choices and my progress, he couldn’t be more supportive and helpful.  Then a chat with Joss, he eventually remembered me from chatting with James last week, but I explained why I was here and what had been happening, he again was understanding and none judgemental, offered his support like everyone else, nice bloke, look forward to talking with him more.  Quick chat with James again, then Alex, agreed to meet with Alex, probably next Monday, our busy schedules clash somewhat, but we should be able to get together at some point.

Quick chat with Victoria before leaving, stop by One Stop on the way home for a bit of dinner and home.  I get the laptop sorted out and do a few hours work with the football and music in the background.  The kids and Victoria get back around 5.30pm, so I finish the plans and elevations, then shut down, I’ve had enough.  My headache came back, I had it earlier, now it’s back, so I blag some paracetamol from Victoria, she’s off out to a pub quiz later, so I pick a DVD with Eve and we both sit on the settee with my pillows and quilt to watch Dr. Doolittle, that was really nice, I don’t spend much time with her, I must do this more regularly.

All in all a very strong positive day, only set back was the headaches, I guess I’ll get more of them over the next few weeks, but they won’t beat me.  I really am on the path now, I feel I’m out of the hole/pit now, I’m in the sun light and on the path to a better life, a better person, there is still a long way to go to get well, to be truly healed, I’m not to ponder on my miracle moment,

I’M HERE FOR THE

MIRACLE MARATHON”

Although I quite rightly highlight the Miracle Marathon, as this was the subject of Gareth’s sermon that day, I have discussed my thoughts on the Miracle Marathon in one of my earliest posts on this blog, but the most significant thing I read in the words of my journal from that day, is the multiple use of the fact that there is no judgement here only encouragement.  This was one of my main fears about walking into Church, that as a man that had lost his way and fell deep down into the pit of sin, I would be shunned and condemned for my past, but this wasn’t the case and still isn’t, over this last twelve months I’ve only been shown support and encouragement, even in my low times and especially last month when I started to fall back into the darkness that can shadow my own thinking, they all stood by me and helped pull me back.

The obvious downside was the headaches, these were just beginning to become an increasing problem, they would grow and grow over the coming weeks and the aches and pains would spread throughout my body as the withdrawals hit and hit hard.  There were times when I wanted to give in to temptation and drink to take them away, but through prayer and friends, I resisted and roughed it out until they subsided and eventually disappeared and left me free to work on through my recovery.

Over the last twelve months I’ve had some great times, some of the greatest days in my life, my Baptism is probably the standout moment, but the weekend at Unleashed Getaway was another great time and obviously the celebrations of the last couple of weeks.

The low points, were the withdrawals and the despair following my Nanna’s death last months, which left me back on the brink of my former self, all that coupled with my relationship situation with Victoria, left me doubting myself and my faith.

But I came to realise at that point a few weeks ago, that I had to die to myself, I couldn’t do this all alone, I had to let God take control, I didn’t need to try and gain control of everything out of my control, let God take over, if it’s in His plan for me then it will come to fruition, all within God’s time, not mine!

So what lies in store for the next twelve months, who knows, but I am going to continue the growth I started last March and have continued since, there is still a long way to go, I still have things to work on and improve, but I have my faith and Jesus with me as I travel on this journey, that I shall never forget.

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
(I Have Decided by Starfield)

They Have Decided

After a couple of weeks where karate commitments have taken centre stage on a Sunday, it was back to my usual Sunday routine. I was out the house by 5.15am, it was absolutely freezing, the pavements were iced over and the air was well cold, but I was up and ready to walk.

I took my usual route, my long walk this morning, just over 13 miles, completed in 2 hours 50 minutes, I was on fire this morning, the cold air and freezing pavements weren’t going to slow me this morning.

As I approached the last leg of my walk a thought came over me. Today is baptism day at our three Churches, the last one back in July was an absolutely fantastic day in my life, as I’ve previously posted my Baptism was a calling from God, I was lifted from my chair to make a public declaration of my faith. But I had this feeling as I came close to home, a feeling that today something special was going to happen, so I prayed, I prayed that today lives would be changed, that God would do some fantastic things in our Churches, something that would out do my glorious moment back in July, now I just had to wait and see.

So today in our Church, nine people had made the decision to make that public declaration of their faith and be Baptised, they all took to the stage with their testimony, a diverse group, some reaffirming their faith, others new to faith following struggles within their lives, then there were the members of our youth group, choosing to make that decision to follow God. It was great to hear these people and their testimonies, it brought back memories of me standing on that stage four months ago, but I was relaxed today, I was staying firmly seated, there would be no spontaneous actions for me today.

Later Justin, who was leading the service today, made the same statement that Gareth had made back in July, the same words that saw my world freeze for a moment and then lift me from my seat, he put out a request for anyone who still wanted to be Baptised to come forward whilst we sing one last worship song. Well, I’ve started a trend, I set the ball rolling, last time two of us made that decision on the day, this time six stood up to be counted.

What made this more special is that these six are all members of our youth group, in today’s society when teenagers worship the plastic music and film idols they see on TV or in magazines, to see these youngsters make a public declaration of their faith and their decision to follow God is just overwhelming, some of these kids live hard lives, they have issues, but today that didn’t matter, they were lifted, they were called to stand proud by God’s glory, I was removed to tears today, tears of joy for these young stars, proud of all of them.

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 Have Decided by Starfield)

It seems is wasn’t only our Church, similar happenings were going on at the other campuses, today God was calling out those he thought were ready to make that declaration, just like he did to me four months ago.

I may be relatively new to religion, to God, to Jesus and to faith, but I just think that special moments like this make this life worth living, it what it’s all about, celebrating the glory of God and Jesus.

These kids just blew my greatest day out the water, quite simply, this day was amazing.