Tag Archives: Lincoln Brewster

The Story So Far – Chapter 11 – The Greatest Day

CHAPTER 11 – THE GREATEST DAY

The next morning though it was time to go back to Church, it was Baptism Sunday, I was looking forward to it, not that I was getting baptised, but because I had never been to one and I wanted to see what it was all about.  At that point I still didn’t really understand much about being baptised, I had been informed that this was coming up, but as I still didn’t feel I was ready, coupled with the fact I was busy with karate things, not only the National Championships the day before, but the Sunday afterwards was our club grading, as I was busy preparing for that too, I decided to wait until next time, to watch this time and then when I had more time, I would find out more about what it means and make a decision about it later.

But just as the day before hadn’t really gone to plan, then neither did this day.  I got ready for Church and as I walked towards the back door I glanced at the sky outside, it didn’t look all that good, it distinctly looked like it could rain.  The walk to Church from my house was just over twenty minutes, it’s a nice walk, it has to be, seeing as I don’t drive, but there was a good chance I would get wet.  I didn’t fancy taking a coat because it looked quite warm too, so I checked the weather forecast and it said there was a definite chance of rain.  I stopped for a second, checked out the window one more time and then suddenly I thought…

I sharn’t bother with a coat, I’m not bothered if I get wet today.

I thought that it was quite a strange choice to make, but I went with it, I walked to Church and it didn’t rain after all.

Something felt different that day, by the time I walked into Church, I was definitely feeling the spring in my step, I felt good, I felt encouraged and expectant.

After three months in Church I was now enjoying the worship, I had been singing along with all the songs and beginning to get more comfortable with it, a far cry from the those early weeks when I stood watching everyone else, wondering not so much why they were doing what they were doing, but why I wasn’t doing it too, would I even let go enough to worship like everyone else was.  Maybe I still wasn’t moving around as much as some of the others, but I was certainly getting into it more than ever.

After worship Gareth took to the stage to welcome everyone and that’s when something happened, something that really changed everything.

He started by stating that he had never done this before, but really felt the Lord saying that someone in this place was going to make the decision to get baptised today.  They don’t normally give people the option to make that spur of the moment decision, but today he felt he had to, he added that they hadn’t prepared for it, but stated if someone wished to make that choice, they would find spare clothes and extra towels from somewhere, he didn’t know where, but they would sort it out.

It was at that point that I just sat in my seat, frozen!  It was like time stood still, only I was there in that room now, but everything inside my chest had frozen, my heart, my lungs were just frozen, for a moment I couldn’t breathe.

I sat there still frozen and suddenly my mind sprung into action, it was telling me that He was talking to me, not Gareth, he may have said the words, but He was talking to me now, God was telling me I was ready, maybe I didn’t think I was, but God thought I was.

Gareth finished his welcome and the service moved into connect time where people meet and greet each other.  But I sat for a moment in my seat as everyone moved around me, inside was this internal struggle, are you doing this or not?  I was running through all this in my head, I knew He meant me, but I’m not usually that impulsive, I plan things like this that take me out of my comfort zone, I didn’t have a clue what this entailed, I understood what a baptism was, but didn’t really understand what it meant to me and if I was ready for this step yet.  But I was repeatedly being told to make that decision, it was my time.

So I suddenly stood up and scanned the room for where Gareth was, I spotted him and walked over to where he was.  I ignored everyone I walked past, if I stopped to speak with them I may miss this moment, if I didn’t do this now, I probably would sit back down in my seat and stay there and miss the chance.

I walked up to Gareth, he was talking to someone, I put my hand on his shoulder, he turned to look at me and I simply said…  “Okay where do I get the spare clothes from?”  He instantly realised what I was saying, a warm smile came across his face.  We spoke for a moment, he said he would sort things out and I was just to join in at the end of the service when the baptism took place.  I went and sat back down, grinning to myself, I still couldn’t actually believe what I had just agreed to, I’m not impulsive, I don’t like going outside my comfort zone, I didn’t know what was going on and I was fighting the apprehension and excitement.

When the service resumed Gareth took to the stage and introduced the three people who had actually decided to be baptised, who had actually prepared for it and were ready, he called all three to the stage to share their testimony.  He didn’t mention me, when I spoke to him later he said he was just going to introduce me at the actual baptism part later, but I wasn’t sure what to do, should I go up there, he hadn’t said my name, he hadn’t mentioned me, I guess they were still sorting things out for me, but I sat there wondering if I should join them on the stage or not, was I supposed to or not, obviously I wasn’t expected to.

So in another act of complete impulsiveness I jogged up to the stage, obviously taking Gareth by surprise and joined the other three people.  I stood there as one by one they were handed the microphone and they nervously told their story.  They had all prepared what they were to say, two of them had pieces of paper with notes on, but with their heads down they stuttered over their words, while I stood there waiting.

For some reason I couldn’t wait to get my hand on that microphone, I wanted to talk.  Normally you would never get me on a stage, let alone put a microphone in my hand and expect me to talk, no way, that’s just not me, it’s not in my nature, it’s not who I am, but for some reason I was really eager, what was happening here was something else, it just wasn’t me and to this day I still can’t believe I actually did all of this.

When the other’s had finished, Gareth introduced me and I took the microphone and told my story.  It was the first time I had spoken about it all in this way, normally it had been a discussion with one of two other people, an intimate conversation, a conversation where I could see the face of those I was talking to and gauge their reaction to what I was telling them, but now I was looking out over a couple of hundred faces, many I didn’t know and they didn’t know me, but I was going to tell them all about how I had failed, all my sins, my addiction, if they didn’t know about it by now, they were soon going to.

I found myself getting more passionate the more I spoke, I’m not sure how long I actually spoke for, all I know that it is was probably more than any of the others.  Afterwards I felt a little sorry for the other three, it was their day, they had planned it, but I gate crashed the party and took all the attention, I didn’t mean any of it that way, not at all, I hadn’t planned any of this, I wasn’t really in control here, I wasn’t acting anything like I normally would.

After that I took my seat and listened to the rest of the service, waiting with that feeling of apprehension and excitement.   All I had come with was what I was wearing, a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, I had nothing else with me.  A friend who sat near me insisted that he go and fetch me some clothes, I said I would be fine as I was, but he wouldn’t hear no and set off to fetch me some things.

After the service there were a couple more worship songs, one of them we had sang a number of times over the few months I had been in Church, as I sang along though it made me cry, not in a bad way, not in a pain or hurt kind of way, but in a way where you suddenly realise how God has just touched your life, when we sang the words to the Lincoln Brewster song I Belong To You, particularly the lines….

“You caught my soul
When I was struggling to breathe”

I suddenly realised how he had placed has hand on my life this morning, I thought back to earlier in the morning when I froze and for those few moments I couldn’t breathe, how at that point I knew in my heart that He was speaking to me, He wanted me.  It didn’t matter whether I felt ready for the next step, what mattered was the He was telling me I was ready and He was letting me know.

By the time the actual Baptisms started, I still didn’t have anything to change into afterwards, by now the nerves had taken over the excitement, but I was still looking forward to it.  I didn’t really know what I was to expect, I had never actually spoken to anyone about being baptised, I hadn’t heard anybody else’s experiences, how they felt in the pool or how it changed their lives, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know what was going to happen or how I was supposed to feel when I came out of the water.

I have to say I didn’t climb down the steps into the pool gracefully like the others, I jumped in, got into position and then let it all happen.  The rush, the excitement was amazing, when I came out I was buzzing, I’m still not sure how I was supposed to feel, but I was on top of the world at that point.

When I walked away from the pool, I was handed a towel and then from somewhere a bag of clothes, they weren’t from my friend who had gone to fetch some things, he still hadn’t got back yet, but Gareth made good on his promise, from somewhere the Church had provided.

The only problem was, although there were clothes, obviously there was no spare underwear, I had to put the dry trousers over my wet underwear, but obviously in time the water soaked through the trousers and it looked like I had wet myself, but who cares about that, none of that mattered!

After that I met so many new people I had never spoken to before, so many people came up to me and wished me well, so many said how proud they were of my courage to stand up there and be so honest.  I couldn’t stop smiling all day, also I couldn’t stop laughing at myself, I still couldn’t believe that I had done any of what had happened that day, I still can’t.  But God works in ways we aren’t really meant to understand.

James wasn’t at the service that day, he was at our other campus in Wellingborough, later in the day I sent him a text, to let him know what had happened earlier and to say thank you for all the help he had given me, but he already knew!  I had not actually been introduced to James’s wife Gemma, but from what I understand as soon as she realised that I had made the unexpected choice to be baptised, she sent James a text in the middle of the service to let him know.  It may seem a simple thing to do, but I was blown away by it.  She knew what it would have meant to James to have been there, knowing how much support he had given me, even though we didn’t know each other, she did this for him and for me.  Later that night I sent her a message of thanks, she said she knew how much it would mean to James and how much he thought of me, that she just had to let him know.  To this day I am still blown away by that simple act of kindness.

In a way life after that day became so much easier.  The drinking was no longer a problem, I had complete control over that now, I hadn’t had an urge to drink for some time, there had been a few since that dark night when I was in a world of pain and alone, but over the next few months I really began to grow spiritually, even if I was still shrinking physically.  I was still working hard and losing weight, but in a moment of loneliness at home I found a new way to exercise and to actually spend more time with God.

I was at home alone one weekend, the kids and Victoria had gone out to a family birthday.  So I planned in the afternoon to take a walk down the old railway track near our house, which had been turned into a cycle track, it’s about four miles long and at steady pace takes about three hours to walk.  The weather was pretty good and I really enjoyed the walk.

When I got home they were all still out and would be all night, so I made some tea and sat down to watch the Olympics on TV.  But I became restless and a little lonely.  So as I had enjoyed my walk so much earlier that day, I decided I would go out again.  I grabbed my iPod and walked, I had no real goal of where I was going, no destination, I just walked around town, I just carried on walking.  I walked for a few hours then came home.  When I came home I found that I had actually had some amazing thinking time, all the problems I left the house with had vanished in the few hours I had been out, everything that was heavy on my mind, I guess the loneliness I was feeling being in the house alone had all gone, I had committed it to God and He had lifted it from my shoulders.

A few weeks later Victoria and Eve went to kids camp for the week and because I was working Ben went to stop at his Gran’s, once more I found myself alone in the house, feeling a little sorry for myself, so each night I found I would go out walking, again I didn’t know where I was going, I just did laps of the town, I walked for two to three hours, probably around eight to ten miles, it didn’t matter, I had a playlist of worship music that I was listening to and all my problems were eroded away with every step that I took.  As I say I found a new way of dealing with things, keeping fit, losing weight and more importantly spending time with God.

Eventually I ditched my normal morning exercise program that I would do before going out to work, I would get up early, get dressed and go walk for an hour or so, I upped the pace a little over the weeks and eventually I found I could walk for long periods at close to five miles an hour.  At the weekends I would walk for over thirteen and half miles in around three hours, even on a Sunday before going to Church.  One morning when I was off work I decided to see how far I could actually walk, so I did my usual thirteen and half mile lap twice, completing over twenty seven miles without stopping.  Because I knew that what I had just walked was over the marathon distance, when I got home I checked on the times people had ran the London Marathon that year, indeed over five thousand people actually “ran” that distance in a slower time than I had just walked it!

Eventually I got my weight down to ten stone, but to be fair I looked a little thin, so I settled on my average weight to be 10 stone 4lbs, I was happy at that.

I BELONG TO YOU by LINCOLN BREWSTER
You light my way everyday
You help me see what I can be
I cry to You, my Spirit song
Come use my life for You alone

You caught my soul
When I was struggling to breathe
You made me whole
And now Your majesty I see
I belong to You, yes I belong to You

I hear Your voice, it leads me on
Into Your arms where I belong
I cry to You, my Spirit song
Come use my life for You alone

You caught my soul
When I was struggling to breathe
You made me whole
And now Your majesty I see
I belong to You, yes I belong to You

I know You’re everything
You’re all I’ll ever need
I know You’re everything to me

I know You’re everything
You’re all I’ll ever need
I know You’re everything to me

I know You’re everything
You’re all I’ll ever need
I know You’re everything to me

You caught my soul
When I was struggling to breathe
You made me whole
And now Your majesty I see
I belong to You, yes I belong to You
I belong to You, yes I belong to You

Verse of the Day – 2 Thessalonians 3:3

2 Thessalonians 3:3

2 Thessalonians 3:3

I’m thankful that the Lord has been faithful with me despite all my failings.  997 SoberDays and counting.

THERE IS POWER by LINCOLN BREWSTER
Where two or more are gathered in His name
He is there! Ah, for all who come
Who run to Him in faith, He is there!

There is power in the name of Jesus!
There is power, power in His name!
There is power in the name of Jesus!
There is power, power in His name! (woah woah)

No fear, no lie, can stand against us now!
He is here! Woah, the Word has come
To silence every doubt, He is here!

There is power in the name of Jesus!
There is power, power in His name!
There is power in the name of Jesus!
There is power, power in His name! (woah woah)

One name, one name can save
One name breaks every chain
One name, always, one name, Jesus!
One name, one name remains
One name, we will proclaim
One name, always, one name

There is power in the name of Jesus!
There is power, power in His name!
There is power in the name of Jesus!
There is power, power in His name! (woah woah)

Verse of the Day – Psalm 51:11-12

Psalm 51:11-12

Psalm 51:11-12

I too find myself praying this too, when I feel like I am slipping, I cry out for help with a similar prayer.

REACHING FOR YOU by LINCOLN BREWSTER
You created me inside Your great imagination
You’re the One who gave me my first breath
You have overseen my life and brought me to redemption
And I know that You’re not finished with me yet

I’m reaching for You
I’m singing to You
I’m lifting my hands to praise You
I’m lifting my voice to thank You
I’m reaching for You
Jesus I need You
I’m giving my heart to know You
I’m living my life to serve You
I’m reaching for You

You’re the one who spoke the Word of life to light my darkness
You opened up my eyes ’til I could see
Jesus You have promised to complete the work You started
Faithful to fulfill Your grace in me

Pour out Your love from heaven
Fill me until I overflow Lord I want more
Reach down Your hands from heaven
Pull me closer than ever before Lord I want more
Pour out Your love from heaven
Fill me until I overflow ’cause I want more
Reach down Your hands from heaven
Pull me closer than ever before Lord I want more

Oh I’m reaching
God I’m reaching for You

Has It Really Been A Year

It slowly dawned on me over the weekend that another anniversary was looming, it’s taken some coming down after the exertions and emotions of the National Championships last weekend, but that was brought back down to earth this weekend with work, but now I can relax and enjoy the memories of what was just a fantastic day one year ago.

It has been a busy weekend, over Saturday and Sunday I’ve been working on some architectural drawings, over 20 hours to be exact, stuck inside on the hottest weekend of the year so far, with late night endings of 11pm Saturday and 10.15pm last night, but I finished the drawings and took them in this evening, job done and done well.

So today is the anniversary of what for me was probably the greatest day of my life, last Saturday was great, but this day last year was off the scale, only rivalled by the arrival of my two wonderful children.

Has it really been a years since my Baptism, the memories seem so fresh, they seem like they were just yesterday.

I’ve written about the full story of my Baptism in my post With the Correct Faith, Yesterday’s Failures Can Become Today’s Victories, so I won’t rewrite the whole story here once again.

The whole day was just so surreal, from leaving the house, looking out at the weather wondering whether I should take a coat or not, then that strange thought “I won’t take a coat, I’m not bothered if I get wet today!”  At that point I had no intention of getting Baptised, I had considered it, but having only been in Church for just over three months and being so busy at the time with Karate, it just seemed too soon to me, I thought I still had so much to learn before I decided to make that decision, to be quite honest, I wasn’t even sure what Baptism truly meant or how it all worked, so I had passed the opportunity to go to the meeting about the Baptism and not registered or prepared for it.

Even by the time I got to Church, I was still comfortable with my decision and happy to just watch the proceedings, see how these things work and what was required to be done before I made that decision, as I say I was still learning and really didn’t think I was that much of a Christian at the point, I was just attending Church and doing my best to walk away from the my addiction and the monster I had become.

When Gareth spoke and challenged everyone, when he said he felt today someone during the service was going to make that decision to be Baptised that very morning, I just froze, I couldn’t breathe for a moment, the world stopped, that’s when I knew this was a message for me, this was God’s word for me.  I’ve often felt during Gareth’s services that his message is directed to me personally, I know it’s not, but I just hold on to things especially when it highlights the mistakes I had made in my life up to that point.  But at this moment, I knew this was a direct message for me, not from Gareth, but the feeling I had, that inner feeling, I just knew it was telling me to stand up and make that declaration.

It took only a few moments of deliberation, a conversation with myself, that “are you going to do this?” sort of thing, then it was a now or never thing.  I’ve so often fought my inner self and given in, but today I wasn’t going to, I was going to be the complete opposite of my usual reserved self, I was going to be impulsive, I was going to ignore the doubt in my head, I was going to do this and it was really a now or never sort of thing.

So I found Gareth straight away and just simply asked him where I could get a change of clothes.  It took him by surprise, but he was genuinely pleased and probably as excited as I was.

But I still had a bigger moment of impulsiveness to go through, when those who had actually prepared for this day, those that had registered and prepared their testimony were called to the stage, I went through another moment of deliberation.

As the three people were called to the stage, I sat there not knowing whether I should get up and join them or not, I hadn’t prepared for this, Gareth hadn’t prepared for this and my name wasn’t called, but deep inside a little voice set get up, join them.  So I just jumped and shot up on to the stage, taking the whole Church by surprise, including Gareth, but for some reason, beyond my usual reserved self, I got up there ready to speak out.

And speak out I did, when it was my turn, it didn’t really matter that I hadn’t prepared, that I had written anything down or gone through this moment in my head over and over again until I knew what I was going to say, I just got up there and spoke.  The words just came, from where I still don’t really know, but they were there and in front of a couple of hundred people, I confessed my downfall and my addiction, it felt like a weight was being lifted right there and then.

It really didn’t matter whether I got wet that day, because I received the most glorious drenching of my life, a moment in time that I will never forget, a moment in time to treasure and when everything seems like it’s all too much, a moment I can look back at and know that I was called that morning, I was called by God, he knew I was ready when I doubted myself, he believed in me, then I should believe in him.

There was just one more stand out moment that morning, one more memory that holds so fresh, one I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned to anyone and it happened right at the end of the service, just before the actual Baptism took place.

As always our services ends with a worship song and usually one previously one sung at the beginning of the service, this song I had sang along with many times and even had a version of on my iPod, but as we sang the song, I came over with an amazing wave of emotion, at the part of the song with the lyrics “You caught my soul when I was struggling to breathe” I just broke down into tears, happy tears I think, I still don’t understand why, why that song, why that lyric, but even to this day, when I hear that song and that lyric, it brings tear to the eye with the amazing memories of that day, one year ago.

I BELONG TO YOU by LINCOLN BREWSTER
You light my way everyday
You help me see what I can be
I cry to You my Spirit song
Come use my life for You alone 

You caught my soul when I was struggling to breathe
You made me whole and now Your majesty I see
I belong to You
Yes I belong to You

I hear Your voice it leads me on
Into Your arms where I belong
I cry to You my Spirit song
Come use my life for You alone

I know You’re everything
You’re all I’ll ever need
I know You’re everything to me

Nativities and Prayers

Today my six year old daughter took part in her school nativity play, she played the part of the Roman Centurion, I wasn’t able to go to watch due to work, but thankfully Victoria took both pictures and video’s of her speaking part.

She had practiced for many weeks and was keen to point out to me, that her words were not written on that scroll, she remembered them all herself and can still remember them, if I want to hear them.

Thankfully no one on stage or in the audience heckled with the words “Big Nose”, Oh sorry I forgot, this was the real nativity not the Monty Python version.

My kids don’t miss a trick, this evening they had spied my presents from last night and have opened the Soda water for me, that was nice of them, well at least they asked my permission first. Oh well, just the Pepsi Max for tonight’s quiet 258 SoberDay celebration.

Also tonight it is 38 weeks since I prayed for the first time, that simple prayer to just ask for the strength to get through those days prior to my sobriety, I still keep praying for the strength to carry on and I keep finding it, even in the darker days I keep finding it.

I’ve chosen the song “I Belong to You” by Lincoln Brewster to accompany this post, due to a couple of reasons;

Firstly, I read Lincoln’s page on Wikipedia where it states Lincoln says this about his finding God:

“One night, I laid all my cards on the table. I asked the Lord to come into my life, all by myself. It was the best night of sleep I’d ever had. I was very peaceful. I think that was what enabled me to blow off that record deal.”

That quote struck a chord with me, because I felt exactly the same thing the morning after I first prayed, that I had had the best night’s sleep ever, I was at peace, even in the turmoil of my life, I was at peace.

Secondly on the day of my Baptism, we sang that song in worship shortly before the baptism actually took place, during the singing of the words below I broke down in to tears, for the second time that day my heart froze, but this time I cried, not in pain, I’m sure it was in joy, but to this day I not sure why, not really sure what brought it on, that moment of emotion, but now each time I hear that part of the song I revisit those feelings of emotion.

“You caught my soul when I was struggling to breathe
You made me whole and now Your majesty I see
I belong to You
Yes I belong to You”
(I Belong To You by Lincoln Brewster)

So tonight I will pray again, give praise for the strength I receive and pray that I may continue to draw on that strength, so I can keep on counting these fantastic SoberDays!

I will forever keep praying

I will forever keep counting