Summary: "A personal story for Good Friday" - part 2 of a presentation for Good Friday
I`d like to share some personal discoveries. I hope they`ll help you too. It`s my Good Friday gift to you.
At the age of 8 I was at the bottom of my Class at School. I`d been at the bottom or very near to it for the whole of my School life. But something happened to change that.
It was war time, and I was evacuated from Liverpool where the bombs were dropping, to a village about 20 miles awa and the Village School really suited me. The teacher was very encouraging, and for the first time in my School life I started to work really hard. I worked so hard that, by the end of the year I was 2nd in that Village Class, and I never looked back.
Back home in Liverpool I regularly came first in the Class, and three years later won the 1st Schol;arship in 20 years from that School to Merchant Taylor`s School, Crosby. My Mum and Dad were very proud of me - my Headmaster was very proud of me - and, if the truth were known, I was very proud of me!
But it was hard at Merchant Taylors` School. This was no village School - it was totally unlike my School in Liverpool too - here was I, the son of working class parents at a school which everyone where I lived regarded as a school for sons of gentlemen. I felt inferior, terribly inferior. I thought, "I`ve got to live up to this", but I couldn`t. Besides I discovered that I was basically lazy, and found it too much to live up to the expectations of the masters, my parents and myself. School reports said, "Eric could do better" - "not coming up to expectations", "Needs to try harder" - but, though I actually DID try, O level results were quite disappointing - 7 fair passes, just scraped through in French, failed in Lation. I was no good at languages (you will see later that this conclusion is important).
At the age of 18 I went into the Army for National Service. I was a potential Officer - but only one out of ten were accepted, and I wasn`t the one. So I spent the rest of the two years as a drill Instructor and weapon training Instructing - teaching men how to kill. I hated it. Some of those I trained went to Korea and killed because of my training - others were killed themselves.
So I came out of the Army at the end of National Service with no idea what I was geeing to do with the rest of my life..... but just then a strange thing happened. I still don`t know whether to doubt my senses - I leave the judgement to you. On holiday at a Summer School for Sunday School Teachers in a College in the Lake District, I knelt down in the College Chapel, I knelt down to pray, "God, help me with my future"....... and while I was kneeling there I opened my eyes, and saw a face - it was the face of Jesus surrounded by light. He said to me, "Don`t worry, Eric. Everything will be alright"!
At that point I started work in an Insurance Office, but after 6 months I was convinced I was in the wrong job - I left two years later. And then, despite the objections of my parents, I took a job in London, a good job with excellent prospects working in the Legal Department of a firm of Merchant Shippers and Bankers. "This is it", I thought, but God thought otherwise.
That Summer I went to the Summer School again, and, during the week we had a talk by an artist about his work. He showed us some of his paintings, and one of them was a silhouette of Calvary. As I looked at those three Crosses on the hill, those Crosses seemed to be saying to me, "This is what I did for you, Eric. What will you do for me?"..................
That question has stayed with me down the years. It`s a question that all of us are faced with at some time in our lives - but never less so than on Good Friday.
When I saw that Cross, something that had been nagging at me for 7 years came to the surface again........... for 7 years (maybe more) I had been wrestling with the idea that God was calling me to be Ordained - but each time I`d said `No!`.
I`d said `No`, because I knew that being Ordained meant that I would have to learn Greek - and remember I was no good at languages.......... but, when Christ calls you, He isn`t held back by your limitations. He gives you the power to do what He`s calling you to do. At Theological College I came first in my year in Greek each of the three years that I was there.