My first inspiration for searching for God comes from my parents. With their passion for God and their passion for meeting the needs of the unloved of this world, they continue to be my inspiration.

At 17 I began to develop a more personal, questioning faith instead of believing because my parents did. At 18 I made a decision to commit to God, to Jesus.

In this church there is a system called one to one, where a more experienced Christian regularly meets with a newer Christian for friendship, support and to study the Bible together. When I left home, shortly after making a commitment, I was not aware of such a concept and had I been my life may have been very different. Most of my time as a young adult was spent with people who did not share my faith. Although I never stopped believing, my faith did not grow. It remained static.

There do not seem to be any real standards in today’s world. The advice is, go with the flow, do what feels right, it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe in something. In my immaturity and naievity I was unable to see when I went wrong or when people did not have my best interests at heart.

I started seeing a man who was good looking, exciting, dangerous and sexy. But he did not treat me well, he did not show me any love. But, like many women I kidded myself that I could change him. To avoid the pain of a breakup and because I thought I was in love with him I continued the relationship and we eventually married. The mental and emotional abuse present prior to my marriage, continued afterwards. He gradually destroyed more and more of me. He was not a Christian. My belief in God continued but my relationship with Him was very distant.

Looking back some remarkable things happened that bear all the hallmarks of God’s handiwork. I eventually saw my marriage for what it was and after much, much soul searching I found the courage to leave.

Without realising it I began to search for the love and acceptance so absent in my marriage, through the world. I made many mistakes and must have driven many people to distraction.

I came to Eden for a couple of years, sitting at the back, talking to no-one. I never stopped wanting a relationship with God and I eventually decided to sort my faith and my life out. I believed in God and yet I acted as though I didn’t.

I joined a housegroup here where passionate, brain aching bible study fanned the flames of my faith. It took a long, long time to change my life accordingly. I still sought approval and acceptance from everyone.

There was a very long period of singleness after my marriage ended. Despite the fun of it, I hated the down side. Wondering if I would ever meet anyone, wondering what people thought of me, wondering if I were fanciable. Yet of all the times in my life, this was the most valuable. I learnt many things about life and about myself but more importantly about God. In not having the thing I thought I wanted the most, I came to depend on God. I was at such a low point that I could no longer run things on my own steam. I needed God and I sought him in a way I never had before. With my barriers down God could get in. I learnt how much God loved me - Cathy. I learnt how tender and passionate that love is. And how reliable and perfect it is.

So my story is the story of the prodigal son. I had it all with God but thought I knew better, that it would be OK to do my own thing. I too left home, looking for excitment and fulfillment through non christian ways. I thought such things were the best the world had to offer and that I should grab everything. I now know that fulfillment is with God and that such pleasures are only half living. The image in the story of the prodigal son, of God, the father looking out for my return every day, arms outstretched, offering forgiveness was irresistable. I have lived as a Christian and I have lived as a non Christian. It is only with God that I stop searching. It is a feeling of coming home.

So how has a relationship with God changed me? I think I have changed my standards to come in line with the teaching of the Bible. I have come to trust these standards as workable and reliable. They are in the best interests for me and for others and for God.

I have also softened. As I have learnt that I am loved to the core of my being my carefully erected barriers have come down.

So today is to say sorry. It is an act of obedience to God whom I trust. It is also to shout from the rooftops that God is alive and interacting with us through the bible and through each other and that he is absolutely the best life has to offer.