Set Free From Slavery • by AIDAN
AN INCREDIBLE SERIES OF EVENTS have brought me to make a life-changing decision that is rapidly freeing me from being a slave to the way I have always lived. I wanted to share my experience of attending the 2005 men’s weekend at Woldingham Park in the hope that it will resonate in the hearts of other men.
I have now attended Harvesters’ Men’s Weekends on four occasions. Each attendance has been another building block for me, a man raised in the Catholic faith. I have come to discover what Christianity is really about, namely a personal relationship with our Risen Saviour Jesus.
My story starts with the 2004 weekend. As usual I bought a selection of Christian books from the well-stocked bookstall. (I never knew such books existed until I came to Woldingham, and they have helped me significantly to discover what the Gospel is really saying.)
One of the books I read on my return home was called Is Jesus Coming Soon? I couldn't put it down! The book’s core message was, "yes, He is". This realisation filled me with a sudden fear. I was convicted by the Holy Spirit that I was not living my life with Christ at the centre as I should be.
Putting God at the centre
Crucifix in Woldingham chapel
I realised that no one knows when Jesus is coming back. However, He will return because He is always true to His Word. How could I be so sure that I would die in my bed at a ripe old age anyway? I was not ready to meet with my Maker and this was primarily because I was not prepared to be obedient to Him in every area of my life.
I realised as I read further that I would have to change my life as God was a God of love and the Creator of everything. I realised that I had made idols of myself and the material things around me – my career, house, hobbies, etc. I resolved with God's grace to get to know Him better, to stop just reading about prayer and to start engaging seriously in relationship with God through prayer. I discovered that I do not save myself through my own efforts but am saved through Jesus' death on the Cross and the grace that He makes available to us through the Person of the Holy Spirit.
This brings me to the joy of the 2005 weekend. It was here that I suddenly became aware of the work which God has been doing within me over the past year. I can see how I have reordered the priorities in my life. God is now number one. My family comes second. Work is in third place, and hobbies are now occasional rather than obsessional.
I realised that I had made an idol of my work which exhausted me. This led me to "self-medicate" through my obsession for motorbikes, my "reward" for working so hard. I am now led to pray every day, have eased off at work and in turn have been convicted that I am not using my gifts as God intended me too.
Discerning God's will
I have handed in my notice at work and will leave my successful executive multi-national career next Spring. I am now praying and trying to discern how it is that God wishes to use me. Yes, I have a wife, a large mortgage and four kids, but I know that God is a faithful God. If I am faithful to Him He will look after us and move us forward. I know that I need my wife and children and am now more unattached than ever to the large mortgage. It is very exciting – and rewarding.
I have felt it necessary to get out of the rat race so as to be available for God and other people in my life. My career has been all-consuming and left me with little time for anything or anyone else. I know from my own personal experience and from the Media that many men nowadays feel trapped and exhausted by their work, neglecting everything else and knowing that they have their priorities wrong. And yet they also feel there is nothing they can do about it.
Brothers, we have been sold a lie. Our societal values are upside down. Do you own your house, or does it own you? I recently realised that the house owned me. As I became more conscious of my value as a son of God I could see that I had things the wrong way round. Now I definitely own the house (well, the building society does - but you know what I mean!). But the best thing I realised at the Woldingham weekend this year was that I now know Jesus as my personal Saviour, that God is a God who is in love with me, that obedience to him is beautiful as He loves me more than I could ever love myself and that He only wants what is best for me.
Jesus has freed me from slavery to sin. He has come so that we can have life and have it to the full. I experienced His joy and peace which is truly like no other at the 2005 Woldingham weekend. I cannot describe how grateful I am to God!