Here’s the third of four, “From the vicarage” first published in the church magazine in June 2009.
We each have a story and I have been reminded of mine as I read Psalm 107 this week. After leaving home aged 17, I spent six or seven years in a downward spiral. I kept messing up relationships with people I cared about. The more I messed things up, the angrier I got, and the angrier I got, the more I messed things up. Old friends, girlfriends, work colleagues, it didn’t matter who it was, I always seemed to blow it by doing something stupid, spiteful or deliberately unkind. On the outside I remained positive and upbeat but on the inside I began to not like myself. At the end of this road my Christian grandmother took her own life, and I found myself crying out to God by the river where her body was found. Here was me, a sworn atheist, someone who hated the idea of God, crying “God, if you are there, will you save me?”
In Psalm 107, three sorts of people cry out the same prayer.
1.The spiritually lost. Wandering without a home.
Psalm 107:4-5 Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. 5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.
2.People who are prisoners of their own rebellion.
Psalm 107:10-11 Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.
3.Fools, who do stupid things and so hurt themselves and others
Psalm 107:17-18 Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. 18 They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death.
All these people cry out the same cry to God and the Lord always acts.
Psalm 107:13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.
The spiritually lost find a home with God. The prisoners chains fall off. Fools are healed by God’s word. And so they all respond the same way to God.
Psalm 107:15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.
From my cry for help, God heard and answered my prayer. From that point on, things began to change. I met loads of great Christians, who were confident, joyful, honest, humble, willing to say sorry when they messed things up. They were everything I wanted to be and knew that I wasn’t. I started meeting with a church where the bible was taught by a Spirit filled 83 year old preacher. Very soon, I thanked God for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. The most wonderful deed of all was when I came to believe in my heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for all my stupidity, spite and hurt. He gave me a sure and certain hope of eternal life with God by rising victorious from the grave.
I am not, and never will be the perfect vicar. I will make all sorts of stupid mistakes. And I will continue to cry our to God in my trouble and know that he has saved me. When trouble comes your way, because of things you’ve done. If you feel lost, separated from God, wandering without a home. If sin ties you down like heavy chains, then is the time cry out to God in your trouble, he has promised to save you. All you need to do is be open to answers.