In the past, despite being a Christian myself, when I would see people waving their arms in the air and shouting praises, I would assume that the silly plonkers had been brainwashed. Being a Christian was good enough, but there is no need to go over the top with it. I am proud to say that I have now become one of those silly plonkers; but I have not been brainwashed. But thats what all brainwashed people say, I here you retort, but there is a difference. It's not enough to just be a Christian; when I say this I am not referring to going to heaven, but I mean that you are getting short changed. The difference between "being a Christian is just what you do" and "being a Christian is who you are", is comparable to you consciously choosing the smart price brand over the extra special range in food shops when the prices are the same. It's like seeing a buy one and get a hundred free offer and just taking the one to the counter. You are losing out for no good reason.
I started to think back to the point in my life when Red Bull was switched for Rocket fuel. I remember for years wondering when God was going to speak to me and change my life like He seemed to do for other people. Then it happened, Everyone's story is different but I think I can broadly split mine into four stages that spanned over a good few years. Stage 1: He allowed me to have a trampolining accident that was devastating, not for my body but my ankle was pretty much ruined, but for the success I enjoyed at competitions. I should point out, however, that the accident was completely my fault and God did not make me or cause me to have an accident, however, He does know all and can intervene in situations when he chooses to. Being part of the trampoline club at university had become my life and I was totally devoted to it. So why did God take away something so precious to me? That's exactly why. The only thing that should be held in such high esteem and be such an all consuming part of my life is God. He basically knocked trampolining of the throne of my life.
Stage Two: a series of unfortunate events that caused me a great amount of pain. Basically suffering. This suffering, although it took many forms, went from age twenty to present. Why did this happen? My best guess is that now God had made space for Him on His throne where He rightly belongs, it was time for me to learn that in the deepest darkest moments of my life, the only one that could help me was God. Once again, I must emphasise that God did not bring suffering upon me but He used it for my good. Although it was a painful lesson that lasted years, I learnt a few things that set the foundation of my faith. Firstly, God is not out to smite me, just waiting for the moment that I mess up. Secondly, despite the circumstances, God is good and does not do things to harm me. Thirdly, He loves me and cares about me and wants to be part of my life. Fourthly, I can't just expect God to bail me out everytime when I've been foolish and caused the problem myself; it was time to listen to what He said then act, rather than acting and asking for help. Fifthly, Jesus Christ personally made it possible for me to have a relationship with God.
Stage Three: Prayer from people in a foreign land in a language I didn't understand when it was minus ridiculous degrees celsius. There were things in my life that I just couldn't shake off. It mainly centred around not knowing in my heart that God really loved me and thinking He was out to get me. The reason I went to Latvia was to visit a friend, and she, knowing my woes, suggested that I talk with one of her friends. It was during that talk with her friend that I felt the first chain break. I knew for the first time in my heart that Jesus loved me and it was and is such an amazing feeling to know this. I took up the offer of prayer from some people who I was meeting for the first time and they prayed in Latvian while my friend would translate bits of it. We prayed for two-three hours and I can't explain it but after that, my life had changed. I didn't feel a sudden difference, but I did noticed changes had happened in my heart and a burden had been lifted off my shoulders.
Stage Four: The present. After going through all this, I suddenly found a new desire in my heart to speak about Jesus and what He had done for me. I don't know where it came from or how it happened but it did. That's the Holy Spirit for you, hits you when you least expect it. My desire grows for Him as the days go by and even though I endure hardship I now turn to God saying, not "Why have you done this to me?" but "I know that you will get me through this and I trust you". He is just part of me, I can't help it.
I guess what I'm trying to say through all of this is that being a Christian is a process and sometimes God needs to first remove things that are sitting on the throne of your life so that He can take His rightful place. But do not lose heart. If you ask to know God or know God more, He will do so, but if you ask, be prepared to accept His methods of doing so. Until He does so, only He knows when, keep asking in the meantime. When it does start to happen, keep asking because there is always more to discover about God.