|A New Life|
Life is full of experiences; some pleasant and some unpleasant. Some we forget about, and some we can never forget.
An experience which I had a number of years ago, is one that I can never forget, because it changed my life.
Our family lived in Dundee for a few years, and then, because my father obtained a job at RNAS Condor, near Arbroath, we moved to that town.
The house allocated was a condemned one in East Mill Wynd. As the time was during the war, things were difficult for all, but people were durable and made the best of everything. People accepted their lot and got on with life.
After the war there was still rationing, but I know our parents made sure we got as much as possible of what was available.
Unfortunately for our family, our father died a young man, so my mother was left with extra responsibility. She did her best in the circumstances to look after us, by doing cleaning jobs, as this is what she was used to doing, after being ‘in service’. We also did jobs to help, such as berry picking, potato picking, delivering milk and papers. At one time, we all worked for a newsagent. My mother cleaned the house, my oldest sister worked in the shop and my younger sister and I delivered newspapers. We were also put on the list for receiving food parcels from Canada.
Shortly after the death of our father, we moved to another house. It was good to have a house that was not damp; which had a bath and an inside toilet.
Into the 50’s, things started to improve in the country in general, as rationing ended and the world became comparatively settled.
When I reached 15 years of age it was off to work. I was to be a Fitter, but shortly after starting work, decided I wanted to be a Jockey. I joined a Racing Stable at West Barns, near Dunbar, and enjoyed the job.
One day, to my surprise, a question ‘came’ into my mind: “Is this everything to life?” I thought to myself: “What else is there to life, I am healthy, happy, like my job, have a good social life and have friends, so what else is there?” I was happy with my interests of studying horse – form, Race Meetings, dancing, girl friends, the cinema and sporting around with my pals. What was the answer to the question? Later, things were to occur, which would lead up to the answer.
One night, while walking in Dunbar, I saw an advertisement for a film. The film was named: Mr. Texas and it was a free showing, so I went in, thinking it was a Western film.
To my surprise, it was about a man who got converted. After the showing, I thought: “There’s something in that”. I accepted an invitation to have a talk, but I did not get converted. I was advised to read my Bible and pray. On my afternoon breaks from work, I did that, but I found it difficult and eventually gave up. My room – mate had a good laugh at me for reading my Bible.
In the village of Westbarns, there were two elderly women who spoke to people about Jesus. Sometimes they had meetings for children in the same hall where I played snooker and gambled with cards. My landlady Nell, told me that they were her aunts, but she had no time for them or their beliefs, so it was a surprise, when one night, she said to me: “would you like to hear the Gospel?”
Immediately, I said: “Yes”. She knew I had been reading my Bible so she thought I would be interested in hearing the Gospel. Her two aunts had obtained a large house for the purpose of having Gospel Meetings. On the Sunday, we went to the Gospel Meeting. I was surprised that my landlady had decided to go, after what she had said to me about her aunts. I was impressed with the welcome received, and the atmosphere in the room. I was also impressed with the message preached by Mr. Blackie from Port Seton and the way he preached.
When I was a baby I was taken to a Roman Catholic Church and Christened. I was told about this later. Sometimes I was taken to a Chapel when I was a boy, but it was just doing what my father or auntie wanted me to do. My two sisters and I were to be Catholics, but this did not happen, because of something that happened at the Catholic School. We were sent to a neutral school, but on occasions went to a Chapel in Dundee.
As I went to the house in Westbarns to hear the Gospel on Sunday nights, everything seemed so clear, compared to being in a Chapel or a Church. The messages were direct and challenging in regard to what we should be in relation to God and His Son Jesus.
After the meetings had been going on for some time, two evangelists named John Burns and James Bathgate, came along to preach the Gospel in the room for fourteen consecutive nights. I attended for a few nights the first week, without making a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus, though I was beginning to feel that is what I should do.
One evening, after I had come home from a Race Meeting, my landlady said to me, that her cousin had got saved. I said to her, that that was what I felt I needed as well. My landlady said, that was what she felt as well. On the following Sunday, I went down to the house to hear the Gospel. During the preaching, I became very convicted of my need of a Saviour. I had heard the Gospel enough, to now know that I was a sinner as everyone else is, and that Jesus had died for my sins, and that by accepting him, I would be saved. Instead of professing faith in Jesus that night, I said that I would think about the matter.
The next morning, I had to go down to the beach with a horse to ‘break it in’. I felt a conflict within myself over the spiritual matter, that I knew I had to make a decision about. I felt as if I was being ‘pulled’ one way and then the opposite way. After this turmoil had gone on for some time, I experienced peace within myself; it was as if a battle had gone on, and now it was over. As I walked up the road to my lodgings to have my breakfast, I knew what I was going to do about the matter of salvation.
On the Monday evening I went down to the house to hear the Gospel. During the preaching of the Gospel, I felt as if a burden was lifted from my being and I received assurance that I was right with God. I thought: “If ever I am fit for heaven, I am now”. It had been a struggle before I got to the point of believing and receiving.
I became a new person and I had it confirmed the next day, when I went to the stables. I did not want to enter into the filthy conversation, the dirty jokes and the bad language.
I did not think I was now better than my colleagues, because I had been the same as them before my experience of conversion. God’s grace and mercy was available for them, as it had been for me.
I now had a new perspective and new interests, because I had a spiritual dimension in my life. Near to an area where we walked horses, there was a bay. I had seen this bay many times, but the first time I saw it, after I was converted, I thought: “That is beautiful.” There is a hymn which states: “Heaven above is softer blue: Earth around is softer green: Something lives in every hue: Christless eyes have never seen. Birds with gladder songs o’erflow: Flowers with deeper beauties shine.” This was the kind of experience I had, when I saw that bay, after conversion.
I read and understood the Bible, prayed to God as a Father and sang spiritual songs.
There was the receiving of that, which was vital for the present and also vital for the future.
The conclusion was that I received the answer to the question which had ‘come’ to me: “Is this everything to life”?
This is not everything to life, there is something else, and I experienced what it was.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks about being born again. This is what happens when a person accepts Jesus as their Saviour. They become, what is stated in the Bible; a new creation. It is not being reformed, but regenerated. Salvation and acceptance by God, is not by christening, confirmation, communion or being a church member. It is not by doing good deeds and being a lawful citizen. Salvation is obtained, by accepting that Jesus died for our sins.
10:30am Breaking of Bread
12:00 noon Family Service
6:00pm Bible Teaching
7:30pm Bible-Study & Prayer