Digg, Staffin
(Photo: Steve Taylor)

Why write our story?

For the next few blogs, or however long it takes, I intend to tell the story of my wife and I and God’s dealings with us. But first I should explain why I feel I have to tell our story. Indeed, why should I do it when I have told some of the story already in earlier blogs and indeed in a book called Island Conversion? Well, in previous blogs, because I was publishing what was in effect a rather long-winded diary of what happened to us, the storyline itself isn’t always clear. In the book there is lot of philosophical stuff that gets in the way of the story. Also a lot happened after the book was written.
I’m also in a different spiritual place. In previous blogs, and in the book, I was writing apologetic, with an eye to non-believers or seekers after the truth. For a long time that is what I had been myself. I had been quite sceptical as regards a supernatural world-view and I had been heavily influenced by the materialist secular way of looking at things. Then these things happened in my life which can only be classed as supernatural. They made me look at the Bible and the world in a new light. I will try and tell our story as plainly and clearly and truthfully as possible. I hope it will be of help to believers, or potential believers, to strengthen their faith.

beach stones
(Photo: Steve Taylor)

How it all started

I had met Margaret who was to be my future wife in the spring of 1964. From the vantage point of looking back after the passage of 50 years I am quite sure that this was all in God’s plan for us. Just as God has a supernatural plan for the Jews and for the world, so he has a plan for all those who believe in him. At the time I had no belief in the supernatural or in God. I was caught up in the spirit of the time. I was a naive naturalist believing the materialist’s story. Everything was natural and down to cause and effect.

That was my state of mind at the time. My state of mind now is that I am completely convinced of the existence of the supernatural and of God. The Bible for me is a supernatural book, God’s message to humanity. How could this transformation have taken place? Margaret was to play a key role, although neither of us could have known that at the time. Neither of us was a believer in Jesus. My conversion was far in the future.

We went together for a two or three months after she had broken off with her steady boyfriend. Then she left me and went back with him and they eventually married. One thing we both remember is that I gave her a big Easter egg, not something I would usually give a girlfriend. It was just an impulse buy. I certainly wasn’t thinking of the Resurrection or of Jesus at the time.

The challenge
Nothing strange or spiritually significant happened to me in my teens or early twenties. I was like the prodigal, in the far country and without God or hope in the world. I had sworn when I was sixteen that I would find out what meaning life had, if it had any, before I would die. I wasn’t making much progress. Looking back, I can see that using my reason was a waste of time. One thing did happen, but it is only in looking back after forty or more years that I can appreciate its significance. That’s the strange thing, only after I came to faith did I see a pattern in all that happened.

I was in the sitting room of a bed-sit in Inverness in my early twenties. I remember I was standing beside the coffee table and I remember thinking, Ok God prove to me that you exist. I looked down and there in the centre of the table was an ashtray with the word Challenge written on it. It must have been an advert for some make of whisky. Only now looking back can I see what I was doing – challenging God to prove himself, something the Bible forbids us to do. Replying to the Devil, Jesus said “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

2005-07-23 20.37.52
Sitting pretty

The wilderness years

Having these attitudes and living a life of folly, it is no wonder that God did not speak to me. These were, spiritually, for me the wilderness years. I felt lost and I was lost. I can only marvel now at the wonderful mercy of God, that he should bear with me so long. The wilderness years went on a long time. I hadn’t forgotten my teenage vow, to find out the truth about life, but I wasn’t getting very far. I did a lot of reading in philosophy, psychology, religions, popular science and so on, but it got me nowhere.

I was always writing verse and I wrote a poem when I was forty titled “Looking Back” and some lines went: “What I wanted was a trumpet, a fire / which would prove there was something intelligent / beyond the veil. / The world / or God (whatever kind of being it is) / doesn’t work like that. Nothing but silence –”. (A’ Càradh an Rathaid pp 20/21) That about sums it up, that’s where I was at, when I was forty; no further on in my search for ultimate truth. The world seemed entirely natural, a closed system of cause and effect. But God had other things in store for me that I could never have anticipated.
(to be contd)