From jail to Jesus…
I was brought up as someone who went to church regularly until I was 16 or 17 and then I went off the rails. It dragged me to the depths of alcoholism and I was in those depths for more than 20 years, during which time I served prison sentences totalling 18 months and came close to even longer sentences. The last time I was sent to prison was 13 years ago when I appealed against the six-month sentence not being long enough. The reason for that was because I knew there was no after-care with a short sentence so I was happy for it to be changed to two years probation on condition that I addressed my issues with violence and drinking.
It was at a time in my life that I had nowhere else to turn to apart from church. I had faith that whatever was planned for my life would work out alright. I knew that I was not in control and turned my life over to someone bigger than myself and that was God. I had no choice because I could not make it on my own. I had always had that belief, from my upbringing, but I had never tapped into it. I felt at ease going back to church, even after the 10-15-year break and have now been sober for 10 years, whereas previously I had never managed longer than 10 months sobriety. Since then, I have dealt with everything that life has thrown at me. It is as if something was reaching out to me and although it is hard to describe I can only think of it as a spiritual awakening. I have regrets about the past but I cannot do anything about what has gone on before. I now know that God will not put anything on you that you cannot handle and that whatever happens shapes the person we become. We cannot do it on our own—we need that higher power that is God.
My family was in the middle of a traumatic situation so I prayed to God for strength. I had never felt so alone – I was feeling helpless, useless, angry, sorry and guilty when all of a sudden a knock came on my door. “God’s knock,” I called it, and there at my door was a minister from Red Lane. I knew then that God was with me. He had sent the minister to comfort me. I knew then there is a loving caring God who is with us in times of trouble. Weeks later I was talking to the minister and he told me that on the day that he came to see me he had had an appointment with someone else but as he was getting in to his car a voice told him to come to me. What a miracle that was as I don’t think I would be here today only for that. Since then, God has helped me through many ups and downs. Thank God for that day when he answered my prayer.
This story was related some years ago by a lady who has since passed away.
My husband Bob died from a hardening of the lungs at the age of 55 after we had been married for 22 years. Soon after he died I went to the foot of the bed and wondered how I was going to manage on my own with two young children. I didn’t know how I was going to cope. All of a sudden, I felt what I can only describe as a rush of air. It started at my toes and went up my legs and through my body and out through my head. I just felt an absolute sense of peace and was confident then that I would cope. I felt God would be with me and that my husband would still be with me. I knew from that experience that there is a God and that he is there for me.
Three little words…
Maybe I had always sensed that someone (up there?) was looking after me but it was not until I was in my mid-thirties that I knew for sure. I was desperately unhappy at work and decided to leave and set up my own business. Voluntary redundancy was on offer and I decided to use the money to see me through until, hopefully, the business was on its feet. It was the biggest decision of my life and frightened me but I had the strangest feeling that I was not in control but being manipulated. Everything happened as if it wasn’t me who was making it happen and before I knew it I was my own boss. In the end, everything worked out fine and I was much happier.
Some two years later, that business was to sustain me through the most traumatic time of my life—and a time that strengthened the belief that was blossoming inside me. I was walking through Longsight Park in Harwood, my mind tortured by the circumstances of my marriage of 13 years ending in divorce. I wrestled and wrestled with my pain until, out of the blue, came the three little words “Let it be” and with those words came a peace. I say the words came from out of the blue because that’s how it seemed—but I know where those words came from and why they gave me peace, and since then my faith and I have never looked back. That’s not strictly true because when I do look back at where my life has taken me it only confirms that someone (up there?) has been looking after me.
I know that someone now as God and I have learned to tune into him, to listen to him, to talk to him. I have got to know him (or her) and try to serve him despite my faults, and it has brought new meaning to my life. A quality of life that would not have been possible without him.
Death is not the end…
Auntie Marian was not really my aunt but a family friend. She lived in Bury Road in the early 1970s when I was aged around 40. I was sleeping, with my bed facing the window. My mother told me I was awake when she came in to wake me. Whether I was awake or asleep I cannot be sure but I do know what I had seen and that was a vision of Auntie Marian. It faded as my mother opened the door but I had seen Auntie Marian so clearly at the window. She was smiling like she always did. My mother dismissed it but when I came home from work that day she told me Auntie Marian had died. She had been found in the kitchen, dressed ready for work, by a colleague who used to call for her. It turned out that she had had a brain haemorrhage and the time of death was the time I saw her at the window.