by Colin Springate
This is taken from Colin's book entitled:
God and me
I was born in August 1939. I know that sounds a long time ago, but I was very young at the time.
The doctors decided that there was something 'not quite right about me,' - a phrase I was to hear people use often about me. They told my mother that I had a serious heart condition and didn't hold out much hope for her little baby. But there was a chance that if she took great care of me, wrapped me in cotton wool and made sure I didn't do anything strenuous or over exert myself, there was a possibility that I could survive my childhood. After that... they had never known anybody live longer than that. There was no such thing as heart surgery I those days. What a heavy burden for a young mother to have to bear. My parents were committed Christians. The first thing they did was to take me to their church (The Salvation Army) and had me dedicated. 'Dedicated' means to devote something or someone to the service of God. In other words, they gave me back to God.
Recently, a lot of people bought brand new cars from a well-known manufacturer only to discover the cars developed a fault after a while, so they took them straight back to the makers. In fact the makers encouraged them to do that. How wise my parents were to take me straight back to the maker. They then took the bold step to allow me to live a normal life like any other child, believing that I was now under the care of Almighty God, while at the same time, being obedient to the medical profession. They took me every three months to hospital for a check up and to be monitored to see if there was any deterioration.
It wasn't long before I was being sent to Sunday School. How I hared that. By the time I was eight years old, my head was crammed full of Bible knowledge. I had learnt passages off my heart. I knew all about Jonah swallowing whales, Moses popping and dropping tablets, Daniel the lion tamer and Noah building a boat in his back garden and filling it with animals, hoping to find a rainbow! What was it all about? I had no idea.
While all my friends were out playing football and getting into mischief, I was stuck in Sunday school singing, 'Jesus wants me for a sunbeam.' Help! I just couldn't make them understand. I didn't want to be a Sunbeam!
I think it was about this time that my parents got somewhat tired of my tantrums. Sot they sat me down and explained to me what they called, 'The way of salvation' in words that I could understand. My dad told me that God wanted me to get the very best out of life, to have a life in all its fulness, to have life more abundantly (John 10:10) and that he wanted to be with me, and he wanted me to be with him. Unfortunately, this was notpossible because of all the naughty and wrong things that we do, say and think. It's called sin. So God couldn't get to me because he doesn't have anything to do with sin and I couldn't get to him with my sin. But then, God did a fantastic thing. He sent his son Jesus to dies and be crucified at Calvary. This somehow put us right with God.
Well, I knew all that! I'd been to Sunday school! That's all they seem to talk about there. Then my dad told me that Jesus did not want to do it. He didn't want to go through it. I didn't know that! I thought, an was taught, that's what he came for. But on the Thursday night before they crucified Jesus, my dad said Jesus prayed to his Father in heaven and said, 'if it's possible for people like Colin to come to you another way, then do it another way.' There was no other way... so Jesus said 'O.K., not my will but yours.'
So they took Jesus and beat him up, pulled his beard out, gave him 39 lashes, mocked and spat at him, then rammed a crown of thorns on his head an made him drag a heavy cross and slammed great big nails through his hands and feet. They lifted the cross up and slotted it into the ground. The jolt would have dislocated his joints. Because of who he was, Jesus could have come down off the cross at any time. But he stayed there because he loved me so much. My dad said, that if I had been the only person in the world, Jesus would still have gone through with it, just so I could have a right relationship with him.
When my mum and dad had finished, I said,
'I'd like to give my heart to Jesus'
So there by my bedside, with mum and dad, I knelt down and prayed and asked for forgiveness for all the naughty things I had said, done and thought. Then I asked jesus to come into my heart. That night, I believe that Jesus Christ came into my life. I never saw any visions or heard any voices. I just believed! The reason I believe that Jesus had come into my life was because my dad said he did, and my dad never told me an untruth all his life.
Guess what happened? Nothing! Absolutely nothing. I thought that when you got 'saved', when you became a Christian, you started jumping up and down, shouting 'Hellelujahs!' and 'Praise the Lord!' and I didn't want to be like that. I didn't want to go around shouting 'Glory!' and 'Amen!' I just wanted to be me. I liked being me.
God is good. He doesn't change you into something you don't want to be. So I was just the same but the next time I went to Sunday school, a tremendous transformation had taken place. They suddenly made everything much more interesting, and my Sunday school teacher, who was a little old lady, who had no control over us boys and who must have been about 102 years old, suddenly began to teach and reveal the most amazing Biblical and spiritual truths. I sat there spellbound, wondering 'Why, o why, did you not do this before?' I realise now, she had been doing this all the time. It was me who had changed.
'What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought,
Since Jesus came into my heart.
Floods of joy over my soul like a the sea billows roll,
Since Jesus came into my heart.'
(Rufus Henry McDaniel)
I could now see an understand spiritual things. Even the strange choruses, songs and hymns made sense...
'Amazing Grace how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I'm found,
Was blind but now I see.'
I was never lost. I was never blind. As far as I know, John Newton was never blind or lost. Now I understood the words he wrote. The meaning was so clear. Spiritually, I was totally lost and blind. The Bible says that 'Satan has blinded the eyes of the unbeliever.' (2 Cor. 4:4) He even does it to children. I was eight years old. I was blind and I was an unbeliever. But now I could see! There was now no more trying to get out of going on Sundays. I went with joy. I just couldn't wait to get there. My mum thought I was ill!
One-day, sometime later, I suddenly had a bright idea. I thought I would write my Sunday school teacher a letter. I sat down and wrote,
Dear Miss Fern,
Thank you for being my Sunday school teacher. Every week it's as though God is getting hold of me a little bit more.
I put it in an envelope and went to the post box and posted it. No sooner had I done so, I suddenly thought, 'What am I doing – writing letters to old ladies! I'm now a young teenager. I should be writing to young girls.' I felt so stupid, remembering I had put love Colin xx on it. I only hope she doesn't think I fancied her! Whatever made me write that letter I do not know. If only I could get my hand in to retrieve it... but too late. The only thing to do would be to avoid her next Sunday, keep out of her way. In a couple of weeks she would probably have forgotten about it.
Who was the first person I met on Sunday? My Sunday school teacher. She looked at me and smiled and said, 'I got your letter.'
'Letter? What letter?' I exclaimed. Then with a chuckle I said, 'Oh that!'
I think she realised I was embarrassed and never mentioned it again. That is, until a few years later. She was asked to share her testimony. She told how a few years previously, she got very, very down and sank into deep depression and couldn't get out of it. She thought, 'What's the point of it all?!' Then she decided to sit down and write out her resignation from the Sunday school Before she did so, the postman pushed a letter through the door.
I have that letter here,' she said and held it up.
It was on lined writing paper. I always used lined writing paper because I can't write in a straight line. It was in black ink. I always used black ink. I thought black ink looked more important.
She began to read,
Dear Miss Fern, thank you for being my Sunday school teacher. Every week it's a though God is getting hold of me a little bit more.'
By now, I was sliding down in my seat praying, 'Dear God, please, please, please don't let her say, 'Love Coling kiss kiss.' I'll just die!'
She never did. Instead she said that letter was so powerful that it broke the spirit of depression and lifted her right up until she began singing and praising God like she had never done before. I was now glad that I had written a letter and a sense of joy began to well up within me. Whatever made me write it I don't know, but that night, in my prayers, I found myself saying, 'Dear God... did you prompt me to write that?' Deep in my heart and spirit I felt the Lord say, 'Of course!'
Gradually, the enormity of what had happened began to seep through into my soul.
Was it really possible that Almighty God, the creator of the heavens and the earth, the governor and preserver of all things, would actually use a young lad to accomplish his purposes? To cope with deep depression you need some strong medication and a period of expert professional counselling. My God just eliminated it. Wow!
There was now a longing within me to know how I could hear God again. How would I recognise him? What did he sound like? So many questions.