Reflections on reaching 30

June 27th, 2014, 1pm

It was 17°C with scattered clouds. The breeze was gentle.

The observant may remember that a while back I wrote something about being 49, so you can be forgiven for thinking that I’ve lost the plot!

The thing is, I have two birthdays, although not in the sense that the Queen does.

One can be pinpointed very specifically, to Sunday 30 May 1965. It would have had a specific time as well, but I don’t remember what my mother told me about that, and as she died over 10 years ago, and my father’s memory is such that he wouldn’t even remember the day, month or year, that will have to remain the only uncertainty about that event.

But I can’t be quite as specific as that for the other birthday. All I can say is that I reckon it occurred some time between 23 and 25 June, 1984, in other words, 30 years ago, give or take a few days.

By the time I had reached my 19th birthday, I was most definitely an atheist. I don’t think I ever used the term back then, but in reality that is what I was. But the God I didn’t believe in had other ideas, and over that weekend at the end of June 1984 something changed deep within me and I came to believe not only in God in a general sense, but specifically in Jesus as the divine Son of God and my Saviour. To use the language of Jesus in John chapter 3, I was ‘born from above’ or ‘born again’, although I hesitate to use that phrase because it is so misunderstood and misused by so many today. There are actually quite a few pieces to the jigsaw of my conversion, although too many to go into here I think. Perhaps I’ll write up a fuller account one day.

C.S. Lewis, another atheist who followed the same path, described himself in this way (in his book Surprised by Joy) when talking about his conversion: he was like someone “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape.” I can so identify with that!!

After all, you tell an atheist that he’s going to become a Christian and see what kind of response you get! Most likely very strong denials, quite possibly with a few expletives thrown in for good measure. “What an offensive idea! Of course I won’t! I have my head screwed on. My atheism is the result of scientific reason and logic, so how dare you suggest that I’m going to take leave of my senses and believe that stuff!” That’s certainly how I would have reacted as I was turning 19.

But that’s just another thing that convinces me of the reality of God. Only He could change me so fundamentally, from the inside out, as to turn my life right round like that, even, in a sense, against my own will.

So, that was 30 years ago, and it is a ‘new direction’ that I have not regretted ever since. Sometimes I wonder what might have become of me had God not intervened in the way that He did. As most people realise, wondering ‘what if…’ can be a very dangerous thing to do, but I know for sure that if God had left me to my own devices all those years ago then my life would certainly be very different!

But He didn’t, and I’m certainly not kicking, struggling, resentful or looking for a chance to escape. I will be eternally grateful to God for taking hold of me and turning my life around when He did. And I pray that He will do the same in many other people’s lives too. Is it a disruptive experience? You bet! But is it worth it? Absolutely!!

Sanna, David Wade and Christine said thanks.

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Adrian Tribe

A follower of Jesus Christ, a husband and father, a Kentish Man (not a Man of Kent), a commuter to London

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