More than just words

The Failed Atheist: A spiritual Autobiography… part 2

Then on one bright Saturday morning, when all was well, the sun was shining, no school, no chores, no God and everything was great in my world, it happened… God turned up.

I’m thinking; ‘great, I can’t even be an atheist’.

Part 1 of “The Failed Atheist”

I thought, ‘Oh great, the only thing I ever really got passionate about and He’s gone and blown my theory right out of the water!’

When I came to, fully awake and sitting up in bed, I noticed there was a presence that literally filled the whole room, a beautiful presence that I knew immediately was the Spirit of God.

My body was awake, my mind was awake, but now my spirit also had suddenly woken up and I couldn’t quite understand it. It wasn’t just an experience, it was, well, an awakening

It wasn’t just a ’close encounter of the supernatural kind’ which left me slightly freaked out; an event I could tell my friends about… No, something was different; something had happened inside me; I felt… different.

Something definitely had changed.

I was struggling to grasp what had happened; it was as if having been an orphan all my life (I wasn’t), the father I had never known had just walked into the room. He’d entered the room unannounced and without anyone speaking or saying a single word – I knew this stranger – I just knew he was my father.

After a few moments the presence left but the sense of ‘adoption’ in me was real and was growing. I had been introduced to a different dimension. The spirit realm. The Holy Spirit realm.

I thought, ‘I have got to get to know my spiritual father!’ – I had no idea where this thought came from!

‘What do I do? I know, I’ll read the bible.  Granddad bought me a Bible 7 years earlier’.

Granddad was a chalker at the local betting shop and still liked the ‘occasional’ flutter. A tall dark, good-looking man. Spitting image of Clark Gable in ‘Gone with the Wind’ I thought. Apart from the fact that his hair was grey, his skin was wrinkled and he didn’t have any teeth. Alright not an actual spitting image, more of a likeness in his youth. You know, in his prime, from a distance, at a certain angle, when the sun was low, oh I don’t know.

Grandad had a hard life and gave those around him a hard life too. But despite his reputation of being a tough man, he would still put his arm around my sister and I and give us a kiss with his brillo-pad-like moustache. You could seriously have done the pans with grandad’s moustache, it was like a wire brush.

It was true, about 7 years earlier, whilst at my grandparents flat above the bakers, in Croydon, grandad came in to the living room brandishing two large children’s books which he had won on a raffle and was proud to present to me. Lifting one up slightly higher than the other and glancing at it, he said,

“I’ve got you”, (meaning unintentionally won), “the ‘World Encyclopaedia of Animals’. Great isn’t it. Brilliant pictures, oh yes and the Bible… anyway coming back to the animals…”

He continued to thumb through the pages having left the Bible on a chair.

 “Look at that, two zebras playing. Which book do you want?”

Wow I thought.  I loved animals, I loved zoos, I loved drawing animals and I was also shocked that grandad had brought me something, and even more shocked that it was educational! Wow an encyclopaedia on animals so I naturally said;  

“Thanks, I’ll take the Bible please”.

I have no idea even to this day why I said that. It didn’t make sense, especially as I was half way through my pencil drawing of a horse’s head. (It was a tigers head really but wasn’t going to plan and it as it started to resemble a horse with uncanny accuracy).

Why did I choose the Bible and always have a love for it?

I know now; I love it because it’s God-breathed. When the Spirit of the Word is the same Spirit within us then we recognise the person behind it.

I love the Bible because it’s the book my dad wrote and I now know my dad, so I want to read His book; by reading his book, I get closer to him, I find out who He is and how He thinks and what He likes and doesn’t like.

At one point, I turned to the gospel of John and read Jesus’ words to the Bible scholars of his day saying,

you have never heard His voice nor seen Him, nor does His word dwell in you.

John 5:37

They had clearly never met him, if they did His word would be in them.

I soon learned that the Bible was a meeting point.

When I was about 10, I would say to my mate Raymond, “I’ll meet you by the telephone booth at the bottom of Cherry Orchard Road”. It was a good place to meet, we both knew it and we both knew we would be there.

So equally, I would say to God, “I will meet you at John 14.1-6 at 5 o’clock. “, and I would imagine Him saying, “See you then… and don’t be late”.

So at some time after 5pm, (I always was late), I would open the door and step into John 14 and we would meet. We would talk, I would imagine he was speaking the text straight to me, as if it were not spoken to anyone else but me, and I would talk back to him, thanking him for it and asking him questions about it.

This was ‘breathed-in Bible’, not words read on a page but received like the secret code of a spymaster passed over the phone in a booth.  

I soon discovered there was something more to the bible than just the words; it was alive.

Men spoke from God as they were carried by the Holy Spirit

1 Peter 1:21

There is a spiritual life force in it that affects us. We become spiritually alive, spiritually activated by it for the one who loves us has spoken to us and even now, speaks to us through it, yes by its words – but also by its Spirit.

Only by his Spirit we would ever want to read it; only by His Spirit could we ever really connect with us; and only by His Spirit would we ever really get it.  I love it.

To be continued…