It was Easter, and my first husband and I, together with our small daughter were on a luxury holiday in Kenya. In spite of the outward trappings of wealth and enviable lifestyle, I was far from happy with the circumstances of my personal life. In fact, I felt that I was at the end of my tether.
Leaving my little family by the poolside, I went up to our cool, spacious bedroom. In between uncontrollable fits of weeping, I tried to console myself with the glossy magazines and papers that lay about the room. Eventually, I ran out of tears and reading matter. My private life was in tatters. I felt I could confide in no-one. I wallowed in self pity but I knew I had only myself to blame.
My eye alighted on a small black book tucked away at the back of a shelf of the bedside table. I was surprised to find it was a Gideon Bible. Idly, I opened it up and the pages fell open at Romans.
As a child I went to Sunday School, I was confirmed and sang in the choir, studied Religious Instruction at school, I even had born again cousins who prayed for me, but I had never before fully understood what I was reading until now. The words shot out of the pages and smacked me between the eyes.
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23,24).
In that moment I not only realised the terrible depths of my own sinfulness but also my own need for the redemption and new life in Christ.
The tears that flowed then were ones of repentance. I read on, through Romans and into Corinthians. I drank in those blessed words, marvelling how patient God had been with me. His loving kindness overwhelmed me and my heart filled to bursting with joy and gratitude. But that was only the beginning.
Since that day, my testimony has grown and spans forty years. Too much to write about here. Of course, I went astray and made mistakes, sometimes hurting others in the process. I did not always like the choices the Lord made for me and I kicked against the goad often.
But His tender patient love and forgiveness drew me on slowly, sometimes painfully, in His footsteps, and still does. It has never been a case of what I have done for Christ, rather it has always been what He has done for me. My testimony is that of a life of Christ lived in me, albeit somewhat imperfectly at times.
Now, many years on from reading that Gideon Bible in Nairobi, I live very quietly in the Scottish countryside with Andrew, a fellow Christian and a tender husband of God's choosing this time, not my own. Christ is the centre of our marriage and graces our daily lives.
We have experienced the busyness of active church life in the Church of England, and we are thankful for the personal lessons we needed to learn there. Over the years we were guided into quieter waters, and now we are learning to listen, rather than to talk, to be still rather than active, and to wait in His presence. Truly God is Good.
Taken by permission from Gideon News Autumn 2005