Years ago, perhaps Easter 2004, I was walking along the pavement of a leafy suburb of Birmingham near my University. I had just spent a week at Easter People, a Christian conference, so I had been spending a lot of time in worship and soaking in God’s presence. I suppose this means that I was seeing more clearly – I was more aware of the Holy Spirit in my life.
As I walked along the road, I suddenly felt that Jesus was walking next to me. It felt so absolutely real that I was nearly walking in the hedge to my right to stop him bumping into the trees jutting out of the pavement on my left. We walked in companionable silence at first, my heart thumping in my chest: it was one of the most amazing feelings of my life.
After a while he said, “Ask me something.”
I asked him a strange question, but it had been burning in my heart for years – a kind of yearning for certainty.
“When did I become a Christian?”
I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was smiling. Instantly two ‘memories’ came into my mind:
Firstly, as a very small child, probably still a toddler, I was running around Bolsover Methodist Church with some other children. There had been a baptism there that Sunday and I was listening to the others talk about it. I remember pointing to my forehead and saying, “Look, I still have a scar from where I was baptised.”
Jesus said to me, “That was the moment where I picked you up, enfolded you in my arms and said, ‘You’re mine.'”
In the second memory I was a few years older. I was at Easter People in the children’s group in the Ocean Room in the Spa Centre in Scarborough. After a time of worship and a talk, the speaker had invited any of us who wanted to to give our lives to Jesus. I responded that day. I had probably responded to that invitation several times before, and I know I responded numerous times over the years that followed, but in our walk together Jesus reminded me of this particular moment.
He said to me, “That was the moment where you turned to me and said, ‘I’m yours.'”
I was reminded of this walk with Jesus earlier this week. It has made me wonder. How many other walks with Jesus have I missed because I was so preoccupied with my own pettiness? I know you are always by my side – so why don’t I notice? Come, Holy Spirit. Increase my awareness.