I was born into a Catholic family September 19th, 1978 and later would grow up mainly in the Anglican Church. I was very adventurous and athletic so church was more a place for social activities with youth groups and Sunday morning worship was simply something I was expected to do as my mother was apart of the worship band. Church was not about faith and my understanding of Jesus was more about head knowledge then it was about a personal connection and relationship.
In 1994 my life changed directions significantly as I was involved in a motor vehicle accident. As a result I am now a quadriplegic and short of a miracle will be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. It has taken some time to become independent again and to adjust to the new approaches to life but what is sometimes most difficult for most people to adjust to is that being in a wheelchair is not a disability but rather a new and different ability. Bonnie and I face challenges in our life that are perhaps different then ones which most others would face but they are by no means any greater or worse. They are simply unique which gives praise to the greater works of Christ.
Following the accident I eventually moved into a group home where I met a wonderful woman named Bonnie who of course later, as some of you know, would become my wife. Bonnie encouraged me both in words and through inspiration not to conform to the expectations of the world around me and instead to strive for a life built on my own hopes for independence. She would also invite me to her church ‘The Four Square Full Gospel’ which is where my faith began to take shape.
It was around this same time that I became more heavily involved in Martial Arts particularly their meditative practices. This barrage of religious thought forced me to confront my own questions of faith and I began praying or just speaking out to God on the front porch of my home about everything and anything. Sometimes it seemed like hours that I would be out there doing this.
It wasn’t until 1999 that Bonnie and I had married and moved into our new home in Douglas Dale that I had come to a breaking point in my faith. I was in the basement of our house in a deep meditation and I simply began to pray and I remember crying out inside and saying, “If you are really there God I need to know. I need to see you!”
I don’t often share this whole experience that followed by I will try.
Something happened and it is difficult to put into words. It was like a vision that I had in those moments after crying out. I was in the middle of this beautiful field and there were trees all around me. I felt as though I was completely transparent and had no substance or significance at all. It was as though I didn’t even exist. It was then that I seem to become aware of another presence that was with me. It was like a wind which blew all around me, through the tall grass in the field, through the branches and the leaves of the trees, and finally it seemed to go right through me and there was a sense of extreme peace. Then I heard what was like a voice in my heart say, “Be still and know that I am God!” It was his presence that then allowed me to realize that the only significance and sense of my own existence came from that fact that he knew me and acknowledged my being there!
I realize that some of you might be thinking I’m crazy but it is hard to describe the change that took place after that encounter. I seemed to recognize God’s presence everywhere I went and would talk about it with Bonnie and others. I would hear him and see him in others and most of all I could see him perfectly in the character and life of Jesus Christ. Most unusual was the change in my hunger for understanding and truth. I would sit for hours reading the scripture and I would devour books in the span of a week sometimes even less. It was unusual because I never read anything before. I would also ask questions of my friends and family were a good friend named Humphrey suggested to me that I might take some classes at Alberta Bible College.
This began the next four years that I spent at ABC and leads me to today where I am interning with you at Oak Park. My desire for truth and understanding has not changed but I am coming to an understanding that God is beginning a transition in my life and its purpose in ministry one which I personally am unsure where it will lead but I am excited to see where it is he will take me.
There’s something powerful which seems to take place when we listen to other peoples testimonies. They seem to not only speak about the great works that Christ has done in our passed of hose who give their testimony but they also seem to open a door to the hearts of those who listen and hear them allowing the Holy Spirit to come in and bring personal transformation and renewed vision.
At the same time it is so difficult for us to articulate and put into words the personal, unique, and special encounter we each experience when we see the living and resurrected Christ. But, that’s the point is it not? It’s personal and unique and all of us here this morning can have this experience and relationship with Christ.I guess I felt led to say this to you because it seems as though many of us hear the testimonies of others and feel as though our own testimonies are some how less valuable or insignificant but that is simply not true. There just equally personal and unique to you.
At the opposite side of things, there are also some of you who have not come to the point of realizing the relationship you already have with Jesus and the testimony he lays out in your life. To you I would like to share a quote which has personally spoken to me time and time again.It is a quote by a man named John Taylor and I found it in Phillip Yancey’s book called ‘Reaching for the Invisible God’. John writes that:
“Every good teacher knows the futility of rapping on his desk and calling: Pay attention, please! True attention is an involuntary self-surrender to the object of attention. The child who is absorbed is utterly relaxed. The adult mind, also, must be unstriving, receptive, expectant, before there can be any creative insight.
Again and again this is the state of mind in which new truth dawns. We do not work it out or think it out; rather, we have the sense of waiting for the disclosure of something that is already there. Attention means being in attendance… To be “in the Spirit” is to be vividly aware of everything the moment contains, the twigs of the thorn bush as well as the presence of God.”
We are all open to the continuing dialogue and testimony we have with God our Father through Christ Jesus. Both those who recognize his presence here this morning and those who are waiting patiently and expectantly for the discloser of something outside themselves. But it is here that we will find true testimony and relationship with an awesome God. In a place where we silence our minds to other people’s concepts, experiences, and words; bringing our bodies and spirits to a stand still and crying out, “Is anybody there?” In these moments of complete life submission we can hear the soft knocking of Jesus on our hearts and hear him whispering, “Pay attention please! Be still and know that I am God.”