I have read – “We can live for 40 days without food, 8 days without water, 4-6 minutes without air, but ONLY SECONDS without HOPE.” – Hope was drained from my life whenI was just 12 years of age. My wonderful father suddenly died in Hospital and my whole world fell apart, he was not just my father, he was my mentor, my best friend and great to be with, he always had time for me and always wanted me to be a part of whatever he was doing in or around our small farm. We always sat together every Sunday in seat number 52 in the Presbyterian Church in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Added to this awful grief, was the extra great sense of loss I experienced when our small farm was sold and I had to say goodbye to my childhood friends – a donkey called Jackie and a dog called spot. Five years later, at the age of 17, I was still grieving over the death of my father and was so unhappy at home with my Mother by adoption, that I ran away to England, not only to try and escape all the things that made me so unhappy, but to try and build a new life.
This new life was to take me into the Army and the Royal Engineer’s Regiment at Aldershot in Hampshire, but very soon, this new life became even more painful than the old life, back in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland. Whilst on a weekend leave from the Army, I discovered that the young lady to whom I was engaged to be married, did not love me anymore, and was already with another young man. She had never indicated her change of heart towards me in anything she had ever written or said.
Again my whole world fell apart as our engagement was broken off. I was heartbroken and devastated with the pain of rejection and the loss of a young lady that I loved so very much. This further loss of someone I loved, stirred up all the previous grief that I had struggled with in the past following the death of my father. I was so devastated by what had happened, and it hurt so much to be rejected and left alone in the world. I knew nobody that I could turn to for help. The pain of rejection and loneliness became totally unbearably.
Although I knew about God from Sunday School and Church, the reality was, I did not know Him, I had a bit of religion but I did not have a relationship with God, so I never thought of crying out to Him for help. Instead, I attempted to end my life by swallowing a handful of tablets with the help of alcohol.
I was introduced to hope on Friday 10th April 1949. by John, who was a member of the Parachute Regiment, he approached me as I stood at a Bar of the NAAFI Club in Aldershot, just a few days after my suicide attempt. As I stood at the bar, I was planning to finish my beer and go back to my Army Barracks and use my Army Rifle to end my life, but before I could leave the bar, John approached me and having persevered, he managed to get me to share with him what was going on in my life. He listened very carefully, then he introduced me to a living God that loved me, a God that could give me HOPE and a NEW LIFE, a God that would never leave me nor forsake me and a God that could heal my broken heart and wipe my tears away. After a brief discussion, John and I left the Naffii Club and walked for about ten minutes, to Holy Trinity Church in Victoria Road in Aldershot in Hampshire. There we knelt and prayed together and this was part of my prayer – “Oh God if You can heal my broken heart, dry my tears and give me hope, I’ll go to the Nations of the world and tell them about the hope that You gave me.”
Suddenly, it felt as if someone was hugging me and the hug felt so good. As I relaxed in the unseen arms, with my tear filled eyes tightly closed, I felt all the pain and grief, also all the hopelessness and blackness drain from my life and in it’s place there began flowing within me a stream of life, joy and peace. I felt so free – so happy and I began smiling broadly, something I had not done for a long time. I got up from my knees that night, a transformed man, as I began my personal relationship with Jesus, I had been born again by the Spirit of God and from that moment on, I would have the life of Christ inside of me. I had been taken out of the kingdom of darkness and was now a citizen in the kingdom of God’s dear Son. I would never again walk in darkness because I would always have Jesus, the Light of the World with me.
It’s now over 58 years since I began my hope filled journey, a journey that has not always been easy, simply because I came to faith in Jesus, but I can honestly say that The Lord has helped me to keep going when things became rough. I have proved many times, that God’s GRACE is sufficient.
As I look back to the night of Friday 10th of April 1959 and as I remember the awful condition that I was in before I was introduced to HOPE and to Jesus, I think about the words of a lovely song – “Something beautiful, something good – All my confusion, He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife – But He made something beautiful of my life.”
Thanks sincerely for reading some highlights from my story, the story of what God has done in my life and of course He is still working in me and for me and through me. Jesus said – “He came to give us life in all its fullness.” and I can honestly say that Jesus completely transformed my life for good and forever.
Now because of my faith in Him, I no longer have a past, I only have a future. A future filled with hope because as the Bible says – “Christ in you – Christ in me is – “The HOPE of GLORY.” – Two of my favourite Scriptures are Colossians 1:27 and Jeremiah 29:11.
If as yet you have not personally found real life – real peace – real joy and real happiness, then I pray that right now, you will invite Jesus to be your Saviour and Lord, ask Him to forgive you for all your sin. Ask Him to save you and make you right with God. I invite you to trust Him and let Him give you His new life in exchange for your old life and I promise you, you will never want your old life back. The truth is – “Jesus died your death that you might live His life.” Jesus said – “I am The WAY – The TRUTH and the LIFE no man can come to the Father except through Me.” That’s found in John chapter 14 and verse 6.
God bless you and please feel free to send me an email or connect with me on Facebook, also if you can get to my Church in Welling, or to any of the locations where I am singing or preaching, then I really would love to meet you.