If not now, when?

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Debate between Catholics and Oriental Christia...

Debate between Catholics and Oriental Christians in the 13th century, Acre 1290. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember years ago being challenged by my (then) friends regarding my lack of faith and belief in God. As it happens these friends were Catholics and regularly attended their local church like most Catholics do. They often urged me to think about the possibility of God’s existence but in those days I was still very much an atheist. Never once did they preach to me though. When one day in 1988 I casually picked up an old Bible belonging to E from the days when she went through the Church of England communion process. She was made to go to church by her mom and I guess that is why she is strongly against the faith now. She has always been a stubborn person and takes after her late father in that respect. Getting back to the good book, I read it through from beginning to end though at the time I didn’t know what drove me to do it. Long before then I remember seeing a card somewhere with the following verse printed on it, a tract, the type given out by Christians as an outreach. The verse was this: Matthew 16:24…. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. I didn’t exactly know what the verse meant but it stuck in my mind. Having read the Bible through completely it sparked an urge to learn more and I pursued that desire for I had to know one way or the other if this God was true. Although I had been an atheist for many years I found myself reaching out to God through my poetry and later I found that rather strange. However I didn’t even think about it being strange at the time for my thoughts were focused on the one thing, getting to know God, His gift of life through Jesus and the power of The Holy Spirit. So often I read comments from unbelievers who think all religion is false and unnecessary and in fact I actually believe the same! I believe however that we can have a relationship with our Creator God and that we can have salvation through Jesus Christ but these things don’t come automatically, we have to reach out and take the gift and we have to believe both in God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. We also have to repent and take up our cross and follow him, just as the verse says. Our whole life changes in that we look upon things differently and our attitudes change, we steer clear of evil things and seek always God’s ways. We don’t always succeed but we persevere asking forgiveness when we get it wrong. God looks at our hearts, what makes us tick and whether we place our trust in Him or not. Our reward is in Heaven and for those who still don’t believe in anything beyond the grave I think I prefer an eternity in Heaven to a short life in the flesh, no matter how great we might think our present lives are. There isn’t any reason  why we cannot have a great life now as well as a greater one in eternity but we must desire and seek after God’s will or neither will be ours.

 

Shirley Anne

 

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