Gold dust was raining down from the ceiling. As the tiny flakes floated in the air, mass hysteria broke out across the room.
Hundreds of people were screaming with excitement and chasing after the flakes of gold.
As I was watching in awe, there suddenly appeared, right in front of my eyes, tiny little feathers fluttering past my face.
This was new and different. Feathers so small and yet so exquisite.
I thought to myself,
This could only have come from God.”
This was the second Sunday in a row that Bethel Church in Redding, California had experienced the glory cloud of God.
And I was there. I was there to witness this in person.
It had been an amazing week and I had witnessed many other miracles.
On a previous trip to Bethel Church, a man had prayed for my leg to grow; this was to fix a problem I had with one leg being shorter than the other.
I saw my leg grow before me and my reaction at the time was to break out in astonished laughter.
So, after the gold dust and feathers experience, I, once again, returned to New Zealand with amazing stories. I was puffed up with pride about the miracles I had seen God do.
I believed I was moving in a much higher place than some of the other ‘more conservative’ members of my Church.
They didn’t seem to get it. They were too blinkered in their thinking.
You can’t put God in a box
A few weeks later, I could not attend the usual 10.30 am morning service and went along to the 9.00 am service instead.
This was our more traditional service with no electric guitars or drums, and where they played the organ and sang hymns.
I decided to bear it.
Part way through the service the minister read from the 1662 Anglican Prayer Book.
The most beautiful words flowed from his lips. Words that were wonderfully constructed and demonstrated an amazing love and faith in God.
I was mesmerised, and it did not take long for tears to fill my eyes.
How could something written 400 years ago be so relevant and inspiring today?
I was immediately convicted.
How could have I, a Christian of less than five years, think I knew it all?
Who was I to judge these so called conservative christians?
I realised that I had been putting God in a box and I needed to open my mind.
They shall not grow old
On the same theme of opening our minds, a couple of weeks ago I watched the Peter Jackson World War one movie, They shall not grow old.’
It is a very moving tribute, based on historical footage of what the young soldiers endured during the war.
I was deeply impacted and it made me appreciate what my grandfather and others sacrificed and suffered for love of country.
Little did I know that when these soldiers returned home after the war, many found it very difficult to get a job. Sadly, what they went through was unappreciated and quickly forgotten.
Similarly, my 90-year-old father recounts the depression years of the 30’s and how their parents (my grandparents) would, as a treat, prepare a meal of mutton flap soup for themselves and their four children.
The children would get to eat the flakes of meat and Mum and Dad would drink the soup water as their meal.
Or how they only had one pair of shoes each and these were for church. They went to school in bare feet, even in the Christchurch winter. Dad said that their feet hardened and it did not take long for the frostbite to heal.
Appreciate and value
It is so easy to forget the sacrifices that have gone before us.
It is so easy to box up our thoughts and think we know the answers, when there is so much more to be revealed.
As we move into 2019, I want to make a special effort to appreciate our past and value people better.
We have a lot to learn from history, and everyone has a story and something to teach us.
Let us not judge and have preconceived ideas, but open our eyes with empathy.
I love how Mark Twain summed this up.
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
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