I’m not sure about God.
Not the one I learned about in Sunday School anyway.
I know there’s a force in my life and heart that’s greater than me. Something that gives me strength and courage. Something to hold on to. I have no doubt about that.
But if it’s not God, then what?
A Higher Power of my own choosing?
The forces of Mother Nature?
Maybe it’s my mum who died in 1984 and whose presence I still feel every day.
Many years ago, I met a man named Arthur. He lived in London’s East End. I had never laid eyes on him in my life before that Saturday morning at my niece’s house in Forest Gate.
He told me we were destined to meet.
Then he told me things about myself that only I knew.
He told me things that would happen to me and they did.
He told me my mum was standing next to me, watching out for me, and described her perfectly, right down to the grey streak that ran through her hair. He had never met her either. What’s more, she had been dead for over ten years at that point.
I asked him how he knew so much about me and he said without further explanation: “It’s what I do.”
I should have been freaked out. But for some reason, I wasn’t.
I’ve often wondered whether Arthur was God. Or that God appeared in the form of Arthur because he wanted to speak to me directly.
I was at a pretty low point in my life then. The sadness of a divorce I didn’t want. Feeling estranged from my children. Battling the alcoholism I wouldn’t admit to. I remember distinctly saying to my sister: I am so unhappy.
I talked to Arthur a couple of times on the phone after that. I told him I’d like to write his story but he said no. Then we lost touch. Or maybe we haven’t. Maybe Arthur is watching over my shoulder all these years later as I type the introduction to this book.
Arthur changed something in me.
It was at that point I segued from writing advertising copy to writing personal essays that made me happy. I wrote about my childhood. I wrote about the joy I felt when I went to Sunday School at the London City Mission. Mr. Phipps was the minister and Mrs. Phipps played the piano. I loved the choruses we sang: “In my heart there rings a melody…”
I wrote about the day I was awarded a New Testament Bible for memorizing verses.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son. That whosever believeth in him…
And I do.
I believe there was a man named Jesus who lived two thousand years ago and who walked from town to town in what we now refer to as the Middle East.
I guess it follows that if I’m not sure about God, then I’m not sure that Jesus was the Son of God.
I know I don’t believe this man named Jesus had otherworldly gifts.
I don’t believe he could turn water into wine. Or that he could raise people from the dead. Or that he could heal people just by touching them.
As far as the miracles are concerned, I like to read between the lines on those as you’ll see later in this book when I talk about TheFive Loaves and Two Fishes.
Although not miracle performing, I do believe that Jesus had a special gift. Or rather, he gave them.
He gave the gift of kindness.
And generosity of spirit.
He looked out for the downtrodden. He felt the rich could do more for the poor.
He preached gratitude. Being thankful for the things we have instead of wishing for things that we don’t.
He taught us humility. How not to overate our own importance.
He taught love—a gift we could allgive if we wanted to.
These are perennial lessons, don’t you think?
And look at the gift of all those great expressions he gave us that we still use today: He thinks he can walk on bloody water!
If he really told them as documented, I think his parables were brilliant insights. They also show how little the world has changed.
In the parable of The Hidden Treasure, Jesus explains how little realhappiness there is in worldly possessions. Try telling that to a world where we have to have everything and have it instantly. Priority shipping only!
Here’s the thing about the miracles and what you can take away by reading between the lines—by not taking everything in the Bible literally.
Let’s talk about the Resurrection for a moment. So what if Jesus didn’t actuallyrise up on Easter morning?
His resurrection is real nonetheless. He came back from the dead in a sense, didn’t he?
Look, two thousand plus years later, we’re still talking about him. He’s as alive today in people’s minds (and hopefully, hearts and actions) as he was back then.
Just like my mum is alive in my heart and mind and the hearts and minds of all my brothers and sisters.
And it’s not just life after death. It’s love after death.
Especially if you live like Jesus did. Putting others before yourself. Trying to see the good in people. Not rushing to judgement because someone is different from you.
Yes, I know, we’ve heard all that stuff before. And naturally we say, YES! That’s how I live.
But do we?
I’m not sure about God available now
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