When I was a child I used to think God was an elderly man sitting on a throne made out of clouds and I felt Jesus was my special friend that I could talk to at any time. In high insight I feel this was a fair piece of reasoning for a four year old, as in my latter years Jesus has proved to be my best friend and Bible prophets I have read about, such as Ezekiel and John, experienced visions of God and His throne in Heaven!
As I grew older I went to Sunday School where I really enjoyed singing my heart out in the choruses about Jesus, until the boys football team were asked to put in an appearance each week and I found them a bit too boisterous for me, so I just stopped going.
I wasn’t too keen on school either but my passion for Art and Design work led me to Art College and whilst there my cousin led me to a Billy Graham Rally at her university. Here once again I felt the passion to include Jesus in my life. However trying to talk to college friends about Jesus led to me being ridiculed and feelings of rejection set in, so I let go of any truthful or biblical belief in Jesus for a while.
After becoming a teacher of Art and Design I found myself going down a new path, spiritually, intrigued by some of the ‘New Age’ thinking. This path led me to believe all ways led to God and we should reach up to God, become like God through meditation and exploration of the inner self. I still thought I was following Jesus and felt that I needed to meditate to get closer to him. This was a regretful move for me, as I found myself seeking out spiritual teacher after teacher, some professing too be a new incarnation of great spiritual teachers, including having direct links to Jesus. It also involved regular trips to Glastonbury where I was drawn into a cult that I found hard to get out of, although I managed to continue holding down my regular job. I did eventually break free of the cult, thanks to friends supporting me, but only to find myself drawn to follow another teacher of meditation in London, whose technique had me silently contemplating nothing for hour after hour.
Eventually something in my lifestyle had to give way and unfortunately it was my mind. As I took a summer vacation to a retreat of the latest teacher in Switzerland, I found after meditating for several hours a day, after four days that I had an inability to sleep for many nights, causing my mind to go into overdrive. Hallucinations set in, so that I came to the point where I could not distinguish reality from the voices and images floating around me.
As the retreat ended, I somehow made it across to Germany on a train where things intensified. After a long and harrowing journey, which was full of demons and darkness, angels and trips into the light, with my mind swinging back and forth between the two, my heart began beating as though it was going to explode. In Germany I was taken into hospital. There my neck was so stiff that the first thought the hospital staff had was to test me for meningitis. However as I came in and out of consciousness and the hallucinations, I eventually found myself waking up in a mental hospital, unable to communicate very well with staff or patients, being English and in a psychotic state.
When I had recovered enough, I returned home to England, where I received further treatment. One psychiatrist laughed after he read my notes and said, ‘how could meditation affect you like that,’ whilst on my next visit I saw another psychiatrist on the same team who said that he had counselled many people who had left the Ashrams in India, after meditation had caused them psychological problems?
Getting back to full health has been a slow process that has taken many years, much prayer and healing from the God of the Bible, His son Jesus Christ and the work of The Holy Spirit in me. Getting married and returning to a Christian church helped, but the attacks on my mind continued, from what I call ‘the powers of darkness’, as I realized I had been involved in the Occult, or ‘hidden practices’, trying to reach God in the wrong way.
When I moved to Devon I became a ‘Born Again Christian’, and saw clearly that I didn’t need to try and get to heaven to talk to God through meditation anymore, because God had already come down to earth, sending His Son Jesus Christ to make a way for me to talk to Him directly each and everyday through prayer!
Whilst I thought I had been a follower of Jesus Christ most of my life, when I prayed the Prayer of Salvation after a meeting involving a preacher, who was also an artist, something inside me broke. As he was showing us his paintings and explaining how God had inspired him to paint aspects of the creation, I saw for the first time that I could do nothing to get ‘me’ into heaven, or bring myself closer to God, which is what I had been trying to do. Nothing I could do could please God enough to let me into His Kingdom! This goes against most religious teaching and ‘New Age’ thinking, as we are encouraged to strive to be good and make ourselves better to get closer to God and get into Heaven. As I heard the simple Gospel Message, or Good News this preacher gave out that night, I saw I had got things the wrong way round. It was not what I could do for God, but what He had done for me!
I also began to understand how mankind was completely flawed soon after God’s marvelous creation was finished. Indeed God’s Creation was perfectly designed, everything was in its place, with a Heavens and an Earth for us all to enjoy, including God who wanted to talk and walk with us. However the first man and woman He created, Adam & Eve, chose to go against their Father’s instructions and as a result they brought in disharmony and decay to a perfect world, for which God held Adam personally responsible.
Having rebelled, their loving nature changed from the one God could live in harmony with, to a sinful one experiencing fear, pride, jealousy & hate. They began to die a little every day, where God had intended everlasting life with Him.
Although as an artist I could still appreciate the beauty of God’s design work that was present in the landscapes when I lived in Devon, like most people, I was well aware that we are living in a far from perfect world, full of death and disease!
Nevertheless God had an equally wonderful plan to redeem His Creation and reunite man with Himself, ‘For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son that those who believe in Him shall not perish.’ For many people God’s salvation plan seems a strange one, a simple message, missed by many and that included me!
Through listening to the preacher it seemed to me that God had completely humbled Himself sending apart of Himself to this world 2000 years ago. This was His son Jesus Christ, who cast off His divine nature to become a man. Jesus sacrificed Himself, in order to pay the price for our sinful nature, which was passed down to us from Adam, and our own sinful or rebellious ways. The price for our sins was and still is, death and everlasting separation from God. However Jesus, God as a man, being perfect and sinless, somehow took all our sin on Himself during His death on the cross. Jesus was totally innocent, because He had never sinned against His Father and so Jesus overcame the death penalty that we all should incur for our rebellion against God. He rose from the tomb after 3 days to a new form of life in His resurrected body. Jesus was then seen alive again after His death by over 500 people, before ascending into Heaven, with the promise that he would one day return to liberate the whole planet and resurrect those who believe in Him, just before setting up His Kingdom. For Jesus promised that those who believe in Him would be blessed with everlasting life! The promise to believers is that one day we will have resurrected body like Jesus’s, when He comes to establish God’s Kingdom on earth. In new eternal bodies we can enjoy living with Him, His Father and fellow believers forever!
For years before ‘being born again’, it had seemed, deep down inside of me, quite unfair that God’s innocent Son should have to die in our place when we rebelled and we continue to do so daily, often we don’t even know we are thinking and doing wrong by God standards. Yet He loves each one of us enough to want to save us, and all I had to do was to accept that Jesus died in my place and ask Jesus into my life?
When I finally repented and turned from my old beliefs and ways to embrace ‘Jesus of The Bible,’ I still wasn’t sure I could receive total forgiveness from God, which was what my heart longed for. At times I did struggle to accept that Jesus’s death had paid for my flawed nature and all my mistakes, or sin, as far as God is concerned.
Nevertheless I chose to believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ died for me on the Cross and was raised from the dead, and I now know through reading the Bible that anyone who does believe this with all their heart and confesses it, will be saved and brought into God’s Kingdom. When I finally accepted Jesus’s act of kindness, it was then that I began to experience the true presence of God and knew that I had a place in heaven and on the New Earth, waiting for me!
Through accepting God’s free gift of forgiveness and new life, by believing in Jesus’s personal sacrifice for me, a new way or life did open up to me, as I was born again! I knew I needed to change after repenting of my old ways, however this in my own strength was impossible. How could I get rid of certain dependencies and mental health issues? These were not miraculously taken away from me, as they are for some who turn to Jesus and accept Him into their lives. However Jesus promised that His Father in Heaven would send those who chose to believe in Him The Holy Spirit, the third part of God Head, to guide them throughout their lives. That by accepting Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, can live in us, guides us and transforms us as we surrender to Him daily. Over the years I have experienced my miracles of healing as I find I now give everything over to God rather than try to change myself. Dependencies, such as food issues have gone, leading to much better physical health. Also better mental health has been gained, with heavy bouts of clinical depression having left me!
Much of this healing I believe has come through studying the Bible, (which I didn’t do much of before I was saved) which has given me a much clearer understanding of Jesus and His ways. The more I research, with the Holy Spirit now as a guide, the more I am blessed. Indeed, whilst there is much inspiring teaching about Christ readily available on the TV and the Internet, I find it can never replace personal study of the Bible, or God’s Word. Seeing how God sees you when you accept Christ is so heartening, along with the promises He has for those who love Him! Also finding churches or communities of believers, who live out the bible, has helped build my faith and improved my ‘well being’ immensely.
Today I know I’m still far from perfect! But Jesus’s perfection is enough to cover my failures, He has paid for all my sin, past, present and future, so when I make mistakes now I can always ask for forgiveness! I know that God recognizes Jesus’s goodness within me rather than my failings! Also forgiving others has become a lot easier as I see how I have been forgiven so much by God, but forgiving myself, for my past took years to do and I think I have only recently achieved this! I find as my heart grows in love and gratitude towards God and what He has done for me, I experience more of God’s love and peace and I become more content within myself.
Recently I have started meditating again. However this time it’s definitely the God of the Bible’s way, for the Bible tells us to meditate on His word ‘day and night.’ But in Hebrew the word used here to meditate means ‘to mutter’, so when we think on God’s Words and keep saying them to ourselves they produce revelation, understanding and healing. Yes, healing has come to me in many ways, all thanks to God through better forms of medication, people praying for me and studying more and more the Bible. I have new life and hope through Jesus having reconciled me to my Father in Heaven, whilst the Holy Spirit changes me on a daily basis, to cope with the demands of my working now as a carer. Indeed it’s trusting in God that carries me through now and knowing that I am adopted by God as His Child, having at last accepted the ‘Biblical Truth’ of what Jesus Christ has done for me.