The year 2016 wasn’t a good one for me for all sorts of reasons and it seemed to be the culmination of a lot of issues coming to a head which, at the time, caused me a great deal of stress resulting in physical, mental and emotional difficulties. When I was at my lowest point, a friend suggested I attend my local church which, in a funny sort of way, felt like I was “coming home”.
As time went on and I gleaned more knowledge of the bible, spirituality and community fellowship, things started falling into place very quickly and seemed to crystalise in a very real, tangible way. Situations which in the past I had written off as being “coincidences” and “luck”, suddenly started to make me realise that there was much more to it than that – in fact that I was being guided and protected by some unknown force.
Without any exaggeration, there had been many instances where we had been on holiday and some act of terrorism had taken place in that area either immediately before or after we had been there. At the time, I just put it down to “luck” that we’d avoided the disaster but, once I started putting many other “luck” situations together, I realised it wasn’t “luck” at all but something, or someone, protecting me. Even when reflecting on my earlier life, when some of the situations I found myself in could have been potentially dangerous on a personal level, I was being protected and avoided serious harm. And even as a small child, I felt watched over and guided by something unseen.
As a natural sceptic, when in 2016 I found myself getting involved in church life, I was still looking for “proof” that God existed. I’d heard of “Doubting Thomas”, of course, and felt I had something very much in common with him. It was then that a whole series of “coincidences” – or “God-incidences” as they’re known within the church – occurred, or at least I started noticing them more and putting links together. There are far too many to catalogue here but I do keep a notebook of them when they happen and I now recognise them as signs to me that God exists, strengthening my faith and giving me much hope that there is a life hereafter.
Some of the “God-incidences” are quite amusing, some have the “wow” factor and some are just everyday occurrences which bring me up sharp to remind me that God is around and watching. Sometimes I ask for a little “miracle” – such as when I lost a diamond from my engagement ring on two separate occasions – and each time prayer was answered and the diamond retrieved in the most unusual of circumstances.
Another time, early in my return back to church after many years’ absence, I asked for a sign that God existed – the following evening I was at choir practice and noticed there were three small dots on my left hand to make a perfect triangle – or Trinity as I prefer to see them! That gave me a real shock – they were definitely not there before! And for those people who believe that white feathers are another sign from God, I have received several in the past few years – one of which came floating down right next to me when I was getting changed in the gym shower room. Coincidence – or what?
Many people have their own personal testimonies and journeys of how they came to God and spirituality. I find it very comforting and reassuring that I have an “invisible friend” with whom I can talk, confide in and go to when things are or aren’t going so well, or just to have a chat with at the end of each day.
Acknowledging God’s goodness and all the blessings he’s given me is a very important part of my daily prayer routine, as well as asking for help with particular situations, dilemmas or appeals for assistance on behalf of other people. I now know that God has been with me all through my life and that he has had a plan for me which has shaped my beliefs and given me a wonderful life. It now makes me grateful that 2016 was such a bad year as, if I hadn’t had that experience, I might never have taken that big step back to church and faith.
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