“Mine is a simple tale – for I am a simple man.” I always thought that if I were to write an autobiography that this would be the opening line. Either that or: “My name is David but you can call me Dave.”, but this may make me sound like a President or a Prime Minister.
I had a remarkable childhood. Remarkable for the fact that the house was filled with love. Right from the very start I KNEW that I was loved! As a boy I was aware of and sensitive to God. I talked to him most nights. I went to a Methodist Sunday School for a while. Attended Church intermittently. I don’t remember a time that I did not believe.
When I was aged 14 and my sister aged 11 there came one of those HUGE, MEGA, life changing and defining moments. On Sunday 17th June 1979 – Father’s Day, inappropriately enough – my Dad, my hero, died suddenly. He left the house early that morning having told us he loved us. We never saw him alive again. As a small family unit we were devastated. Never once did my Mum waiver in her belief in Jesus Christ and I suppose neither did I – despite the heartache!
I left school and went to college and then drifted on to Polytechnic for a while. I had a ball. A “personal” Jesus was still around, but in the background. Friday and Saturday nights became ritualistic. Parties and clubs and pubs. Ten pints a night, followed by the obligatory Indian curry. I remember starting some of those Saturday nights here at Pendlebury – that was when our current church building was the Duke of Wellington pub!!
My life was drifting – I was drifting, aimlessly. My life was without purpose. I even contemplated joining the priesthood. It was after one of these Saturday nights, I got home around 4am and fell into bed. I woke up with the sun on my face. I hadn’t even closed the curtains. I woke up – refreshed – like I had been asleep for hours – it was just before 7am. I woke up and I had to go to church. No ifs, no buts – I had to go that morning. I made the 8am service.
Following this – at the age of 25, with an awareness that Jesus Christ, the Son of God loved me enough to suffer for my sins, for my forgiveness, I resolved that He deserved a greater level of commitment from me. I was confirmed and baptised by the Bishop of Manchester. That night, in front of friends and family I took Holy Communion for the very first time. A magical, mystical experience. A God-given experience, reminding me of Jesus’ sacrifice for me. An experience of which I never tire. An act of remembrance which means just as much to me today as it did then. An experience of being one with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
I met my wife in Hope Hospital while visiting my sister there. She was in the next bed. I like to think it was love at first sight but rather I think it was a case that she could not get away from my attentions. God has been good to us. We were told that in all probability that we would not be able to have children. When our eldest daughter was born there was only one name to give – Grace. We now have 3 daughters. The youngest was born on the 6th January – Epiphany. They are our treasure. Our gifts from God.
I read Deuteronomy 6: 4-5 every day.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
And so I have come a full circle. A simple tale – A simple man. A simple faith – A simple message – LOVE. The whole Bible distilled into 4 letters – LOVE. In truth, the only sermon which Jesus preached – LOVE. The Great Commandment!! Full circle. Being led into fellowship here at Pendlebury Evangelical Church. My mustard seed of faith first planted by the Holy Spirit now having grown many branches.
If I can pass on some words of wisdom to my children it will be this. When I was 18 my Gran gave me a bookmark upon which are these words:
Don’t hurry, don’t worry, don’t forget to smell the flowers and love Jesus with all your heart!