My early childhood memories are starting to dissipate into the vast recesses of my overactive brain; generally they were very happy and care free times. I remember having both my parents working from home and being able to spend quality time with them. My favourite memories are: my father reading exciting and hair raising adventure novels, and comforting me in tenebrous hours when one should be soundly sleeping.
I naively made it to about year 3 before I realised that attending church was not normal for every family; 90% of our cousins and family friends went to church. It was a very rude shock. Even ruder was some time later realising that not every person went to Heaven – the only alternative being Hell. My father and I had been walking past the Synagogue and I asked him about Jews. We talked about what they believed and that believing only in God wasn’t enough. It was hugely challenging but I didn’t even attempt to connect the dots that would have resulted in a giant arrow pointing to Heaven.
Things were starting to change. I was far too in love with the world and the more I learned about unbiblical concepts like evolution and feminism the less I really believed God even existed. I stayed in the public school system till the end of primary school, tried two terms in a private school, then home schooled till the end of grade 12. Nothing much happened until I turned 18 and had a mini teenage “rebellious” stage; something I had completely forgotten to do and had no inclination for until I met a boy.
He was a temporary distraction for about 3 months and came along at the same time as my first full time job. (Interestingly, society considered me an angel but even with my limited knowledge, I knew my lifestyle was contrary to God’s standards.)
Every school holidays I was required to attend two weeks of training with all the other Department of Education information technology trainees. When I first started I was the only female in that field so I got a lot of attention and special treatment. One of the guys, Craig, became my best friend and it turned out he was a Christian. In 2007, after nine months of friendship, we started dating. Craig lived an hour from Launceston so when my contract was up I moved in with him. It was now 2008. I didn’t understand how heinous it was for me to drive Craig away from God, but in early July, Craig came to me and said he couldn’t keep living in sin and he needed to focus on God. Normally I’d have lost my temper or considered doing something vindictive but by God’s grace I said wanted to do the same.
For a couple of months we’d been going to his church, Scottsdale Gospel Hall, and I had been learning all the things that were to eventually connect the dots. I finally understood that sin was indescribably odious and abhorrent before God. I knew that God should have sent me directly to Hell. I believe He had every right to squash me like a bug but He didn’t. He kept bringing things my way that meant I couldn’t ignore Him any longer.
I’d been working four days a week, my day off had been Thursday but about that time it got changed to Friday. The first or second Friday I was walking past church and I looked at the sign. It said “Ladies Bible Study 10.30am – 12.00pm Fridays”. Well it was only 9.30am so I had time to go home, get my Bible and be back in time for the study. I knew the ladies there were very aware of my lifestyle and how deep in sin I was and I was so shocked at how loving and accepting they were.
The following Sunday, Craig decided to visit another church, so I made an extra effort to be early for our church. I wanted to be focused and ready to worship when the service started. I was surprised, once again, at the kindness and mirth of the people when I got there. They were enjoying morning tea and confabulating before the service, and I didn’t realise this was what happened. To have a coffee placed in my hands and the most delectable sweets offered the moment I walked in the door just melted my horrible, blackened heart. They had every reason to hate me: I had taken their young friend away, spoiled him and changed him. They showed no resentment and didn’t even hesitate for a second.
Craig’s good mate also attended our church with his wife and their daughter. As we became great friends they taught me about the Bible and about Jesus. The four of us spent many hours discussing theology, and by mid August God had brought me to a realisation that I could not go back; back to sinning without a care and hating God. I had no choice but to turn from my sin, to die to my old self and to trust Jesus. Trust that He is faithful and perfect. Trust that He could and would cleanse me and make me new. I was highly aware that following Jesus would not be easy but I was glad to do whatever He wanted because I knew He had secured a place for me in Heaven.
One of our elders and his wife were taking their family on a holiday. They needed a house sitter and I needed to move out of Craig’s place. They said I could stay with them as long as I needed. When they returned from holiday they found me a little flat and helped me move all my things. During that time Craig and I decided to just be friends. We both knew we needed to concentrate on God and we were only providing each other with a dubious distraction.
In October a group from church trooped of to the GLO (http://www.glo-australia.com/) graduation, held in Burnie, and I went too. I got to hear all about studying the Bible, what living for God entailed and that being equipped for His work was important. I told my elder's wife I wanted to go. She introduced me to the principal and his wife. They thought the Discipleship course would be perfect for me. I talked non-stop about GLO all the way home!
I was so excited. I spent hours making a budget and planning everything. By February 2009, even though I was desperate to get there and get started, I still cried when I was driving out of town. I was leaving my church family and it hurt. I settled into GLO life relatively quickly but I struggled to make friends. I was intolerant of people who flouted rules and my anger showed. I didn’t love them unconditionally as Jesus commands us to. I didn’t intend to upset or offend anyone but I did. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I make no secret of what I am thinking. Abruptness and brutal honesty without grace is a dangerous thing.
In the nine months I was at GLO there were many tears and much laughter. I got on well with the staff and they were very patient with me. I couldn’t say what my favourite subject was because it was all about God. Things weren’t always easy but it was all worthwhile. There were things I just didn’t get around to doing (like reading all the books in the library) and the things I did accomplish were with God’s strength and grace. Being immersed in God’s word continually for nine months leaves a sempiternal mark.
The things we studied were great but not as in depth as I would have liked. Nine months is rather limiting so three years or more at RTC sounds fantastic! I call myself a "Theology Wonk" and a "Sovereign Gracer Tuliparian”. I very much want to engage my brain, so to do that whilst learning about the only important thing in life, absolutely thrills me. I want to be able to serve God well and in a way that honours Him; to be able to study the Bible effectively and accurately, know and hold fast to solid theology, gain and develop skills needed for ministry, and persevere in my faith till He calls me home.