Easter 1988. It’s 30 years ago now, yet happy memories are etched forever.
Fun & fellowship at the Immanuel Church Easter Youth Weekend.
There was friendly banter & deep chats. There were campfires on the beach under star studded skies.
And on the Sunday night our speaker- Gerald Titmus spoke. I don’t remember what he said but as he spoke, the Spirit moved in at least eight lives.
One thing I recall was Gerald saying that in God’s eyes there were just two categories of humans- those who are trusting in Jesus to forgive their sins & those who are not. Race, colour, gender, religion & good works are irrelevant in the big picture. Just going to church wasn’t enough. We were all sinners in deep need of a Saviour.
Instantly I realised which category I was in & I wanted to change it. I prayed a simple prayer- & asked God to forgive my sins & come into my life. And He did.
The next day our youth leader Ivis shared this promise with me:
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
(Revelation 3:20 NIV)
It’s a beautiful picture- Jesus knocking & waiting for us to respond to His offer of forgiveness. Yet, He also said:
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last”
(John 15:16 NIV)
‘None of us is the leading character in the story of our lives. God is the larger context and plot in which all our stories find themselves.’
God is at work in our broken sin-stained lives. He is our Creator & Recreator when we turn to Him in faith:
‘GOD made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him’
(Psalm 18:20 MSG)
‘God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.’
(Psalm 18:24 MSG)
For me, responding to Jesus’ invitation that night was like a light switch. For others the realisation of truth is more gradual- like the sunrise. The dawning of the truth of knowing. God rather than merely knowing about Him. This makes all the difference in the world -for time & eternity
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
(John 17:3 ESV)
Before we left Ballycastle to go back to ‘normal’ life in Belfast, Ivis shared another verse. Another promise from God:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
(Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
God is our Help & Strength through life-no matter what.
Before He died,Jesus promised a Helper within:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,”
(John 14:16 ESV)
As believers, we have the Spirit of God within. So,
‘What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.’
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
At the campfire we praised the Creator of the ocean crashing on to beach beside us- the same One who had scattered those stars above us. We worshipped our Heavenly Father who sent His Son to die in our place & gave His Spirit to endue us with everything we need in this journey called life.
‘Jesus my Saviour is alive
And I can feel His power
He guides each step & holds my hand
And I know He understands’
And those words are as true now as they were then:
‘For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.’
(Psalm 48:14 NIV)