'I was wondering what was wrong with them, and where was the beer?'
Rod’s story | Taking time to grow spiritual fruit
“I normally went to the pub on Friday nights. But when I was 22, I met a girl, Cathy. She was visiting a mutual friend at the hospital, and so was I. Our mutual friend suggested I take Cathy home. Cathy had polio and she was using crutches and two calipers. She’d come to the hospital on public transport. I thought, maybe I should.”
“We got talking in the car. I could tell right away she was the smartest girl I’d ever come across. She was full of beans. I drove her home, but on the way she said, ‘If you drive me home, you have to take me to youth group on the way.’ I said, ‘Righto,’ and I went with her to youth group. It felt like I’d dropped into another planet. There were people playing games and singing songs. They were all happy-clappy. I was wondering what was wrong with them … or where was the beer? But then I drove Cathy home and we talked in the car all night, about everything.
“It’s our 40-year wedding anniversary this week. At first, we moved to a house with 13 steps. It was crazy. I carried her up and down those steps for 13 years and we kept the wheelchair in the car at the bottom. And then we had our son. It seemed like a miracle to us. Cathy said that she wanted him baptised. For those years, we hadn’t been going to church. I wasn’t adverse to Christianity. I’d read the Bible cover to cover and we often talked about it, but it meant nothing to me personally. And then our son arrived and Cathy wanted him baptised, so we started going to the local church.
“I got on with the minister straight way. He was an ex-draftsman and he drove a yellow V8 falcon. I was a draftsman and I drove an orange V8 falcon. I liked his sermons. They were short and to the point. Then we started doing Bible study with him and over time, it made sense to me. I was into mathematics and I had questions. The trouble with the universe is that it loses energy. It winds down. It’s called entropy. So there has to be some kind of mathematical support. There has to be a designer and I started to see that it was God.
“I also started to realise that we don’t have to understand everything about God. It’s a bit like having a dog. If you talk to your dog and you tell him things, does he understand everything about your world? No. Perhaps that’s how it is with us and God. There’s a lot we don’t understand. But somehow Jesus became like us. Jesus came to this earth and he spoke with us and he died for us, so that we could be right with God, and know God.
“I like a passage in Galatians 5. Back then [when the apostle Paul wrote it], apparently, it was usual to promote yourself. But Paul said to the Galatians that the ‘fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’ (v 22-23). That’s what God does in us. As Christians, we want to promote others. The leaders are to be the servants.
“Of course, humans are forever doing stupid things. I do a lot of stupid things and I upset people. But Jesus said to love God and love people. I find it hard. There are days when it feels hopeless, but there’s forgiveness. There’s a ledge of grace. And that’s what we have in common, as Christians. We want to help people. And we have a commonality because of what we believe, in Jesus.”