Summary: How the Bible and Prayer became real for me.

“School Days are the happiest days of your life” so they say. Well, they weren`t for me - they were miserable. It was my own fault, of course, because at school I was lazy and lessons were a BORE. I couldn`t see any point to learning History and Geography, and French and Latin, though Math wasn`t so bad.........

Really I was more at home on the Sports Field than in the Classroom. So, when the 20th of July 1951 came along and I walked through those school gates for the last time, I breathed a sigh of relief, and vowed I`d leave all those studies behind me.

But something`s happened - something`s changed! Though I hated Geography and dropped it in the 4th form, I now love it! In fact there was a time when the walls of the Vicarage were covered with maps of the world and hardly a day went by without me studying them with great interest..........What made the difference? Our travelling has made all the difference. Ever since Jill and I started travelling, Geography has stopped being a matter of lots of facts in a book, it has become a living study of living countries, inhabited by living people. I study the places we`re just about to visit and I study the places we might just possibly go to one day, and I find it fascinating.

And my view of History has changed too. When we go to a new country, I want to read as much as I can about it, so that I can get a feel of the place and an understanding of why it is the way it is - why people act the way they do, and why they are so different from the British.

But the other thing that`s changed my view of History is TELEVISION. It all started with a series of plays about Henry 8th way back in the 1970`s. Those plays were wonderful - they brought that turbulent period to LIFE for me. They were the first historical plays I had watched in COLOUR - and they were so REAL and THRILLING, it just blew my mind!

DO YOU SEE WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE? Those very subjects which had seemed deadly boring at School had come alive because of my experience of LIFE. Now they were subjects with an aim and a purpose.

There`s another subject which bored me stiff at School. In those days we called it R.I. -

Religious Instruction - Yes, believe it or not it bored me stiff - why did I have to endure it three times during the week.

Oh, I went to Church as a teenager, but I couldn`t see much point to it - the Sermons sent me to sleep! And if anyone had suggested BIBLE STUDY to me I`d have run a mile, or if they`d had invited me to go to a Prayer Group I`d have told them I had too much to do - and I wouldn`t have been lying. There were far more important things to do than “PRAYING”, like RUNNING AND RUGBY AND TABLE-TENNIS, AND THE MOVIES, AND DANCING, AND GIRLS, OF COURSE............. That`s what REAL LIFE was about in my teens and early 20`s. I just couldn`t see the point of all this religion even if I DID go to Church three times on a Sunday.

But one day I met Jesus face to face - saw Him in a vision when I was on holiday in the English Lake District at a time when I was worried about my future, and when He told me not to worry, that He had my future in His hands, and called me “ERIC”, that meeting began to change my views about religion. It STOPPED being something I did three times on a Sunday to please my Mum. It STOPPED being a ritual I`d taken part in since I was three, but I couldn`t tell you WHY I was doing it.......

NOW IT CAME ALIVE - it came ALIVE because I`d MET JESUS.

I wanted to find out more about Him....... WHO HE WAS......... WHAT MADE HIM TICK

...........WHAT MADE HIM SO DIFFERENT FROM EVERYONE ELSE WHO HAS EVER LIVED...... And then I began to ask: “How can I live like that?”

I wanted to KNOW - I WANTED to know - it became vitally IMPORTANT to know these things......

and though one of the ways of finding out was through BIBLE-STUDY, it didn`t turn out to be the BORING OCCUPATION I thought it would be...............

It began to answer the questions I was asking................

And then I began to meet with others who felt the same - and I learned things I hadn`t learned on my own as we shared our experiences together.............

And it wasn`t a study about a dry as dust person who lived a long time ago. It was about someone who was here, ALIVE - I could meet Him NOW - He became my FRIEND........ and then I began to talk to Him, NOT long flowing prayers written by other people, but in my own simple words, as if I was talking to a friend who was very close to me - which He WAS........ so PRAYER became different - it was ALIVE, AND VITALLY IMPORTANT.

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