Cala & Ann Mackenzie
Ann and I met when we were both in our thirties. I had just started attending church quite regularly, after a long absence since my youth, when I attended with my parents. Initially I went on my own in the evenings, then Ann started coming with me. We were both very interested in what we were hearing and were soon attending both morning and evening services.
Not long after we were married we were asked if we would like to attend an informal Christian discussion group in a local hotel. We had no hesitations and went to the first meeting. This was a fantastic opportunity. Although we were both raised in a Christian environment there was so little we knew about what being a Christian meant. We also had many questions about what happened in the church; what the prayer meeting was, what did the Lord’s Supper mean, why was baptism administered and so on. There were many other questions in our heads and now we had the opportunity and forum to ask them.
I suppose we were both waiting to wake up one morning, or see a blinding flash of light, and suddenly be a better person, knowing we had been saved by Jesus. This never happened however we both found our way to salvation.
We were very fortunate in that we could discuss our feelings with each other. However, even with all the good teaching we were getting, in church and in our discussion group, we were still not feeling any better about ourselves. One Sunday night after church I could tell that something was troubling Ann. Normally very talkative, she would not say what was wrong. That night she hardly slept. In the morning I had to leave early as I was flying to Uist and staying there overnight. Ann was still very troubled when I left and was a constant worry for me during the day. She was training to become a nurse and was meant to start a work placement that day.
That evening when I phoned home Ann was much brighter and told me about her day. She told me that she was troubled about the service on Sunday night. The minister was preaching on the unforgivable sin. The sermon certainly struck a chord with Ann and she felt powerfully convicted of her sin and her need to be made right with God. This had been the cause of her distress. On her way to start work she called in at her parents house, still very upset and not at all looking forward to facing people, never mind starting work in a new place. She could not understand why her mother was delighted that she was so upset. The telephone rang when she was still in her parent’s house. This was her mentor who had been called in to do an early shift and asked if she wouldn’t mind if she started the following day. Ann thought this was a strange coincidence, however her mother knew otherwise and suggested that she use this time to visit the minister. So an emotional Ann made her way to the manse, still a bit bemused by what was going on. The minister was very sympathetic and explained that salvation was a gift to be accepted, and that what she as feeling was conviction of sin. He also explained that people often worry about committing the unforgivable sin, however people who would have committed this sin would not care, or be upset about where they stood with God. They prayed together and she walked out feeling much better than when she walked in.
As she told me this I was delighted, however wondered if I would feel that way, or be so powerfully convicted. I returned from Uist on Tuesday night and we decided as a couple to attend the Wednesday prayer meeting. We had previously discussed this, and had been encouraged to do so as a means to learn more and seek God. Rushing as usual we were the last in and took that long walk down to the front pew. Both ministers were away that night and the person that was asked to take the service was the one who had initially invited us to the Christian discussion group. He was just reading out the first singing “I joyed when to the house of God……” You could see the delight on his face and we received a warm welcome from everyone. However I still thought that Ann had been saved and I hadn’t.
We continued to attend church services, prayer meetings and our discussion groups. During this time I began to understand that everybody has different experiences. I finally accepted that I was not going to feel a better person, let alone be a better person, and by the time the communion season came round I was ready to profess Jesus Christ as the only way to righteousness before God. Both Ann and I became church members together which has been a great blessing to us both.
We continue to attend the Christian discussion group, which has helped so many people in their search to find God. We also help out with the children’s Campaigner group, as well as participating in church activities. Recently we were asked to attend a Gideon’s introductory meeting and felt that we were being led to this work. We have since been accepted as members of the Stornoway Branch and pray that we may be of service to the spread of God’s own word.
Looking back we can see God at work in our lives. Ann remembers quite vividly memorising ‘The Good Shepherd’ (John 10) in school and this now having a special meaning as she has come to understand the work of The Good Shepherd. One recurring theme has been the description of Joshua as he crossed the Jordan. The waters of the river did not part until the priests took the step into it. Our lives have been blessed as we have taken each step towards God. The step to attend church, to attend the discussion group, to attend the prayer meeting, to take communion…. As we go on in our lives we pray that The Lord will continue to guide our steps and bless them in doing His will.
As we look to share God’s Word with those who have no access to it, we think of those near and dear to us, especially our daughter, who have ready access to the means of grace and have not taken the steps towards God. We leave all in His powerful and merciful hands, and to His appointed time.