Gradual awakening by a patient God – Sherelle French
Mar 27, 2013 1628
By Sherelle French
I grew up in a Christian home and was taught all the stories of the Bible and to love God. My parents were faithful in taking me to church each week and I was lucky enough to be sent to a christian school and christian university. I was always aware of God’s love and care for me however my understanding of God was that I had to be good and to do all the right things for Him to save me. Being saved by the things I did was not a notion that my parents actively taught me rather it was a subtle understanding that I developed by attending a church that focused strongly on works and little on the grace of God. Hence I had a life with continual guilt- am I doing enough for God to save me. Should I be doing this, going there? Is my career good enough for God? Am I good enough for God?
When I went to University I started to question God’s love. I was struck in a very bad relationship and I felt that there was no way out of that . If I left that relationship I would not be able to call myself a Christian. I began several years of starting to question whether God existed and if so, why He would make so many rules and regulations up that caused me to feel like I was never good enough for Him. I never came to the place of not believing in God, however over the years my connection with God started to diminish and I started to introduce all other forms of religious thinking that began to influence my decisions and behaviour.
Over the following few years I read all types of books on many religions, especially Buddhism and other secular new age type books that concentrated on me being the centre of my own world. I loved the principles they had in these books of kindness to others and that “god” could be all around, in earth, air, myself and others. I felt I had narrowed my understanding of God to the point that I was shutting out God’s omnipresence. Over the coming years I started to develop a lot more into new age way of thinking and less and less on reading about Jesus and His sacrifice for me. Throughout this time I stopped going to church and there were many months and some years that I did not even think of God. My life became consumed with what I was going to get out of it and not what I was going to give.
Years passed and when I had children I began to remember the lessons I had learned as a child and I wanted to give that also to my children. It is true what the scripture says in Proverbs 22:6, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” I started to go back to church – at first once a month so my girls could learn the lessons of the Bible. I found that my children loved church so much and as for me, I wrestled against going every single week. There were many years that I would make New Year’s resolutions stating, “Put God first this year” because I knew it was the right thing to do but I never managed to do that. There was always something that got in the way when church came around and my life always seemed too busy for God. We went many years only going to church 4- 5 times a year and I never prayed.
I often say to my husband now that my youngest daughter was a gift from God. She came into this world as a very spiritual person. Despite her parents desperately trying to find every excuse under the sun on why they did not have to go to church, as soon as she was old enough to talk she would ask to go to church. There were many times my children would talk about God and this would jar my memory and conscience. One day, my oldest daughter piped up from the back seat of the car and said something that really shocked me. She was 5 years old at the time and she said in a very contemplative tone, “mum, I have been thinking and I am trying to decide between loving God and loving the devil. I have decided to follow the devil.” Shocked, I asked her why and she said, “God must not be loving with all the problems in the world.” It was shocking to me that a young child would already be thinking and contemplating on the problem of pain and where a loving God was in the midst of this. I did not know what to say and then my youngest daughter, who was only 3 years old at that time, piped up from the backseat of the car and said, “you don’t have to understand Tune, you only have to love God…he loves you and that is all you need to know.” This was the greatest little sermon ever and straight from the mouth of a babe who had only ever been to church a handful of times in her life.
I went straight home to my husband and told him the story and we committed to going to church again for the sake of our children. It all started off well again but soon the business of the world again took over and we again forgot to go to church or pray and I soon forgot the words of my daughter in the bustle of life. Our lives became busier and louder and more stressed and while I knew it was the wrong thing to do, I somehow could never find the time for God.
Then in 2010 I had the greatest scare of my life. Ovarian cancer – it was one of those nasty ones that do not have symptoms until it is too late. It was by pure Divine intervention that my Doctor asked me to have another simple unrelated test done (by the way I never go to doctors so this is a miracle also) and they stumbled on this silent cancer growing away inside me. The surgeon was so sure it was cancer that he called several times when I was home after all the tests and said he was personally going down to the lab at night to review all the slides. After several operation and 6 months of chemotherapy I am now recovering…praise the Lord.
The strangest feeling came over me when this was happening- do you ever ask yourself what would you do if you were faced with death in a year? I had asked myself that question since I was a little girl all the time. I was always one for trying to pack 110% into my short life but when that time finally came and the question and answer was REAL, the answer was much different. I lost all the drive to travel and buy stuff and conquer the world- the clearest thing in the world to me was that I needed to
1. Get right with my Maker. It was not so much from a position of being scared to die- I seemed OK with that, it was purely because I was grateful for the life I had been given and all the blessings along the way and I had lived a selfish life of not giving back to others
2. Be close to my friends and family and ensure that they know what a difference they have made in my life and how important they were along the way to me.
It is in those darkest times in your life that you see the bright stars and what is most important. I am confident that God has been with me through my whole life….He was with me as a young child learning the lessons of His love in my family home and local church. He was with me when I questioned Him in University and when I did not have time for Him in my career. He continued to speak to me in His gentle quiet voice through my children. It was not until I was faced with death that I truly woke up to what was important in life and God’s continual intervention in my life. I dont ever think God caused cancer to happen to me….it was something He used to get my attention away from what was not important to the greatest importance of all….HIM.
I often tell my friends now, if I could have my life over again, I would not change a thing. I would still choose cancer because it is through this journey that I have found my way back to God. Thank God for His patient awakening in your life. Sherelle French, Currumbin Australia (cancer survivor and Jesus lover).