15 December 2017

“…and finally. ”

If you had asked me at the age of five, if I was a Christian, I would have said yes, without hesitation! I was brought up in a home where we went to church every Sunday, said prayers at our bedside every night and grace before meals. Of course, at that tender age I never questioned it. I was never given an alternative. At school, prayers were said and hymns were sung every morning before lessons began. Not only did I have to be obedient to my parents, but also to God, because He was watching me, knew everything I was doing and I needed to be good enough to get to heaven when I died!

As I grew up, I went to a boarding school, where this emphasis was just as strong and provided the background for the school’s discipline. I’d better behave, or else….!

Although my understanding is very different now, I firmly believe that the strict upbringing I received provided a wonderfully stable influence on the life I went on to lead.

My career was in show business as a dancer and singer and I graduated from a chorus dancer to principal girl in pantomime and various parts in plays and musicals. I married, gave up my career and had four children before reality hit me.

I had a privileged life, a wonderful husband who loved me and provided comfortably for me and the children. Materially I had everything I needed, but I wasn’t happy. I was one of those people who constantly looked at others and their ability to succeed and similarly looked at my own inadequacies and failures.

It eventually brought me to my knees. At thirty five I decided I could no longer continue the way I was going. In utter desperation I knelt and prayed to God. “If you’re there you have got to help me right now, because I’ve had it. I can’t go on any longer like this.”

That is all I said, and I didn’t think God would hear me or reply.

But He did….through a lovely Christian woman I hardly knew at the time, choosing to phone me at that very moment because she felt I needed someone to talk to!

As I talked, over a cup of coffee with her that same morning, she suggested to me that although I had always believed in God I had never invited Jesus into my life.

What did that mean? I had no idea, because it was not something that had ever been suggested to me before. She told me that she had taken that step having suffered from depression for many years and it totally transformed her life! I knew I needed an experience like that, so with her help I prayed a simple prayer for forgiveness, before inviting Jesus to take over whatever remained of my life. I simply offered my sad, pathetic failures to Him and asked Him to live in me to help me live my life for Him.

Immediately I sensed peace flowing all over me and through me. All the hurting, worrying, and negative emotions ebbed away. I knew something amazing had happened. February 25th 1975 was my new birthday and I think I have been amazed ever since!

Life hasn’t always gone “my way” but Jesus didn’t say it would. However, He has always been with me, helping me through many different circumstances, ever since. Someone once described my dilemma as having a God-shaped hole inside me. No matter how I tried to satisfy the hunger the hole created, whether with material possessions, pleasures or comforts, nothing fitted, because it was the wrong shape. Only God, through Jesus, could bring satisfaction.

Since that wonderful day, my longing has been to be able to share the real meaning of Christianity with others. If there were people who felt the way I felt, to reassure them that there is another way, because Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” He also said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

To those who are struggling with life’s difficulties and stresses today, isn’t it worth investigating?

Fiona Castle