I remember January 1978 at youth camp, Piha near Auckland. Lying in my bunk late at night listening to the ‘weird animal sounds from the dormitory below thinking this is real, this weird, this is the devil. I knew that God and I had an agreement, or at least I thought we did. I would go my own way and maybe one day reconsider life with Him; I was keeping my side of the agreement, but God didn’t enter into the agreement with me, because he continued to convict and call me to come home to Him. (I didn’t think of it as home then, I’ve learnt that since.)
Our Father in heaven is so, so, patient with me, far more than I deserve. And he is with you too, please don’t mistake his patience for permission to be unloving and disobedient towards Him.
Late that night while lying in my bunk my self-talk went like this. This is the devil, this is real, and I want nothing to do with it. But I’ve rejected God and I know there is no in-between place. I knew there was no sitting on the fence between the kingdom of God and kingdom of darkness. There is not a third kingdom. I needed to get over to God’s side of the fence so I would be safe. But I couldn’t do it, I felt like I wanted to but I couldn’t, and I didn’t know why. It was an unseen resistance from the devil and the walls I’d built in my heart. Let’s just leave it there.
I got up and walked around the campsite with this struggle going on in me. Dave, a camp Dad sort of guy asked me how I was, and I manged to say: I need to pray. This was my first real spoken need of God, all the rest of my struggle had been in my heart and head. God wants you to know that sometimes all you need to do is confess your need of Him and he will do the rest. I’ve learnt since that Jesus has defeated the devil so I don’t engage in fighting him but in resisting him.
Dave led me to circle of about 8 or 9 people praying. They were outside the dormitory where the noises were still happening, kneeling on the grass and praying. From the moment I knelt in that prayer circle I began to confess my heart to God. The wall was gone, the struggle was finished. And I prayed: Father not my will, but your will be done. I didn’t share my struggle with the others and received no counsel from them. I just prayed the words the Holy Spirit must have given me. But I choose to pray them, and I meant them, and this prayer has been the bottom line of my life from then until now.
I remember surrendering all desire for the good life in this world, I wanted one thing, Jesus. The fullness of joy that flooded my soul was awesome, and tangible purity and peace that filled my heart. The freedom and lightness was real. It was so good. I want to remember this and continually seek it as my normal state of being. There have times when I’ve lost it and needed to refresh my repentance in Jesus Christ and remember my first love. One of my little secrets, I pray Psalm 51 a lot.
Immediately in the moments and days that followed, I remember having new convictions and making new decisions. I would be in a situation from the past and something in me would say, now I do this and not that. And I would choose to do it, and it would be God’s will. I choose to leave my employment and go to Bible College because God had shown me, I was a preacher. I never wanted to preach, it was not my passion, it was his call. I had somethings to make restitution over, I just had to get thing sorted. I told people at work what had happened. I shared in church the following Sunday. none of this was planned or instructed by another person, it was the Holy Spirit leading me according to scripture.
Oh and I began reading my bible most days and haven’t stopped. I’ve never sued a devotional reading book, tried a couple but didn’t find them as life-giving as the scriptures.
Following meeting Jesus, I only wanted to serve him. There was nothing I wouldn’t give up or away for Him. Since those days I have never seen myself serving a church, or people; only Jesus.
This was nearly 42 years ago, and it was the beginning of my life today, the moment I was born from above. I’ve stumbled and got distracted, mostly by striving and religious and doctrinal stuff. But, through it all the Holy Spirit patiently, gently, yet firmly leads me back to the ‘one thing’ of faith in Jesus Christ, and to experiencing the joy and peace of salvation in his blood today.
My prayer is we will remember the joy and purity of our salvation in Jesus blood, he is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and overcomes the devil once for all. This is so precious and worth all my life on earth to be with him for eternity.
Please join with me in praying the following scripture.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:7-12)
Pray as a confession. And as you pray pause and contemplate to allow the words to read your heart, and become your heart. This is how transformation happens as the Holy Spirit writes the words and truth of scripture into our heart so it becomes who we are.