Bob Breeze

Sixty years in the making

Born in 1951, I suppose I had a fairly common background. I was brought up by my parents to believe in God and Jesus, learned the ten commandments and many Bible stories at school and Sunday school. There seemed no reason to question what I was taught, but as teenage years progressed, religion seemed more and more irrelevant.
Looking back now, I can see how God was using certain people and events to get my attention.

When I was twelve I had a really bad asthma attack and almost died. I was lying in an oxygen tent, mum and dad at my bedside, and I remember the great sense of peace and calm when the hospital chaplain came and held my hand and prayed for me. I had to stay in hospital for another couple of weeks, but I’d turned the corner.
At secondary school we had a physics teacher who every so often would tell us about how he became a Christian and how God had called him to be a teacher. (He wasn’t a particularly GOOD teacher at the time, so we weren’t convinced God had got it right!) But while the rest of the lads were having a bit of a go at him, I respected the man and I think I wanted to believe in what he was saying.

I wonder whether God was even using some of the music around at the time. For a while, religion seemed almost cool, although it was usually some vaguely Eastern form of religion.

But the real turning-point came in 1970, during my first year at Loughborough University.

One evening two guys came to our door in the halls of residence, introduced themselves as Christians, and asked if they could talk to us about Jesus? It was either that, or do some course work, so they came in and we chatted for a couple of hours. They invited us to do some bible studies, to find out more. I can’t say I was really searching for anything, or was aware of any great spiritual need in my life, but they were nice enough guys and it was easier to say “yes” than “no”.

As we did the bible studies over the next few weeks, the gospel message began to make a kind of logical sense – we were all separated from a holy God by our sin, selfishness and rebellion, but Jesus had taken all that on himself on the cross – we could have our relationship with God restored by putting our faith in Jesus and his resurrection. As I say, it seemed logical, but was it true? I wasn’t sure.

These Christians were genuinely friendly and seemed to have something that really meant a lot to them. They asked me – did I want to become a Christian? It was easier to say “yes” than “no” so I prayed with them, something like:

Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for loving me even though I haven’t loved you.
I am sorry for selfish and sinful things I have done which are wrong, and not pleasing to you.
I turn away from everything I know to be wrong, and ask you to forgive me.
You gave your life on the cross to bring me forgiveness, and rose again to give me a fresh start and a home in heaven.
Now I ask you to come into my life as Saviour and Lord.
Please send your Holy Spirit to help me know you have come into my life, and to help me serve you and live for you.
I thank you for forgiving me and coming into my life.
Amen

I can’t honestly say whether things really changed then. But a few weeks later I was trying to explain the gospel to another student and suddenly realised “Hey! This really IS true!”. Looking back, I believe that God the Holy Spirit was working in me, revealing the truth to me. That evening I prayed again, and I believe it was then that I began a new life as a Christian.

Since then, God has been faithful to me, even though so often I have been faithless. It’s not always been easy. God doesn’t keep from us the really good things in life, but neither does he keep us free from the tough things, like losing loved ones and the breakdown of relationships. But he does promise to go through all these circumstances with us.

One thing I have realised recently is how God has been faithful to me in sending me really good friends. There have been times when I’ve been ready to pack everything in, but there has always been someone who cared enough to listen, to understand, then sympathise – or, more often than not, give me a good metaphorical kicking and tell me to pull myself together. I really thank God for those people, and I hope they know who they are.

The bible tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God’s got great things lined up for us, He wants us, He wants ME, to take some part in His plans. People often say that everything happens for a reason, and I believe that God uses our experiences, good and bad, to prepare us, to equip us, for whatever the next step is going to be.

God will accept us just as we are – we don’t have to pretend – but he wants to take us on from there, to make us the men and women we should be. It takes longer than a life-time, but he keeps chipping away at us and building us up. He’s been working on me for sixty years, and still got a long way to go.

I don’t know what the next ten? – twenty? – thirty? – years may bring, but I believe there’s something that God has prepared for me, and I believe the same is true for you, too.

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