'I heard an inner voice on four Sundays in a row'
Ian’s story | From finance to faith – at 50!
“As a young person I was into sports cars, sailing and going to the pub on Friday nights. It was pretty harmless, but it was also meaningless.
I had no church background. When I was 15, a school friend was being confirmed at his church, and he asked me to come with him. I went to the classes, but I can’t claim I understood what I was doing. It was more of a social thing. Afterwards, I had some involvement with that church for a short time, but the message hadn’t made any impact at all. It was partly because I had no concept that I was a sinner or that I needed anything at all.
In 1979, I was 36 and working in corporate finance. For some reason, I was inspired to go and hear Billy Graham speak at Randwick. No one invited me to go; it was just a feeling I had. Afterwards, when they invited people to come forward, I had a compulsion to respond. I sensed it was important, but I failed to have true understanding. Later, I had some follow-up from the local church, and I attended that church for a year, but I still lacked understanding, and after a year I ceased attending. I still hadn’t read the Bible.
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In 1991, I was working with a friend who was a well-known stockbroker and commercial analyst. He gave me and others in the office a small Gideon’s Bible for Christmas. I accepted it gratefully. I knew it was important, and I intended to read it, but I didn’t get around to it for a few years. My weekends were taken up with sporting activities – sailing, running, cycling and squash.
“I sensed it was important, but I failed to have true understanding.” – Ian
In early 1993, I woke up on a Sunday morning at 6am, and was deciding what to do for the day. I heard an inner voice, saying, “What about coming to church?”
I said, “What? I can’t do that. Don’t be ridiculous.”
That morning, I lay in bed wrestling with the voice until it was too late to go to church. At 8am, the voice stopped.
The same thing happened the next Sunday and the next and the next – the same inner voice. It was not a threatening voice; it was so real and encouraging. On the fourth Sunday, I said, “All right, I’ll go.”
I went to church at 8am, but the service had already started at 7.45am. I didn’t enter, and I left, but I made a promise that I would go to church the next week at the correct time.
The next week I went to church. I was 50 by then. It was very emotional. I just felt overwhelmed. I knew it was where I should be. The Lord called me to church, and then he called me to faith in Jesus. At home, I started to read the Gideon’s Bible, from beginning to end. It was the most inspiring read. I knew I had to find out more about Jesus.
“The only thing I could do was put my faith in the Lord Jesus, and I would be clothed in his righteousness!”
The minister invited me to a growth group. The first time I went, I realised I knew absolutely nothing. I bought myself a bigger Bible, and later I started doing a preliminary theological course through Moore College. I found it enlightening – truths I’d never thought of before – mainly that I was a sinner, fallen short of the glory of God. The only thing I could do was put my faith in the Lord Jesus, and I would be clothed in his righteousness!
It changed me in every way. At work, I began to remove myself from dollar motivated behaviour, and the colourful language people used to impress each other. After I retired, I moved from Sydney to Oberon to try my hand at farming. The Lord led me to a little local Anglican church, and after a few years I became a lay preacher. At times, there was nobody else who was licensed to preach. When I started that course, I hadn’t the foggiest idea I’d ever be a preacher!
The key verse for me has always been John 14:6. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
When we understand our deepest needs, then we realise that Jesus is the only way!”
Ian’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click to read more Faith Stories.