Without God we cannot; without us, God will not. St Augustine (354-430)

February 28th feels like my REAL birthday. I am 8 years old. Some might say my writing style is still slightly under-developed!

Whilst on 15th October this year I will be 44 years old chronologically……my life began at about 10pm on Saturday 28th February 2004. I was by Lake Bala in Wales, I was 35 years old,  , it was the evening of an Alpha Course weekend away and something unexpected, supernatural and life-changing happened. I gave in to God. After 35 years of fighting Him and about 12 months of a really intense, last-ditch battle to resist his gloriously gentle, loving and patient attack……..I stripped the bravado, pride, pretence and lies away and just prayed, honestly, for the first time in my life. Over the course of the previous months I had come to a place where, having examined all the evidence, I was forced to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was exactly who he said he was: God made man. I couldn’t run away any longer from the fact that I had to make a choice – for or against Jesus. A life trying my pathetic best to follow him or a life living in my own strength. God didn’t force me – I regularly reassess my belief to make sure that I’m not being conned – and making that decision – to commit the rest of my life to him – was the best thing that I have ever done.

It hurt….the tension in me that night hurt. It felt like I was being pulled apart because I KNEW that he was real, honest and faithful: and yet I was so scared of giving in to him: so convinced that life would be less, boring, odd, weird. Something happened under a star-filled sky in Wales. I remember the sensation of just not WANTING to resist his gentle but persistent invitation – of being very aware that this was the most important moment in my life: a last chance after a life of selfishness, arrogance, hurt and hurting. And oh, the relief after I said, ‘Lord God, I beliebe that you are real. I can’t do this by myself any more. I don’t want to. If you’re real then please come and live in me like they say that you want to. And I will do anything you want if you will never ever leave me. Amen’.

No lightning, thunder or shooting starts. Bit of a disappointment really. But a week later my 6 year-old son, TOTALLY out of the blue (he never used to speak!) pulled on my hand as we walked through town. ‘What son?’. He looked up at me, ‘Happy new you Dad.’

I must have misheard hin, ”WHAT son?’

‘Happy new you Dad. You’re like a brand new person.’

And he’s right. Much of the old has gone completely away and all of the rubbish in me is being gently and lovingly cleared by the humble gardener that is my patient loving God. In eight years he has forced nothing on me – this all-powerful, creator God who is holy, mighty and perfect treats me with such extraordinary gentleness. He doesn’t burn away the dross until I let him. But I cannot burn it away by myself,

It’s a partnership – and as the very junior partner I am happier than I have ever been, better than I have ever been and more useful to my God and my fellow man than I could ever have dreamed of. I have so many regrets in my life……but never for a millisecond have I regretted the night, eight years ago today, that I chose to belong to Jesus. I owe him absolutely everything that I have and anything that I have achieved I have done in his name and his power. And so, eight years on, I want to say, very publicly, ‘Thank you for not giving up on me, thank you for always being with me, thank you for what you have done in me and through me over the past eight years. I love you Lord Jesus. Passionately, totally and forever. And I love you in your strength and by your Spirit, Thank you so flipping much.”