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Fiona Macleod

I have been asked to write my story of how I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I don’t have a very exciting story to tell, no great bright lights or sudden conversion just a gradual realisation that I was heading for a lost eternity.

I pray that this writing be blessed and the Lord given the glory.

My background, I was born in Fort William in 1970, my father came from North Tolsta in Lewis and my mother came from Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire. In 1972 my sister was born. We had a normal childhood doing the usual family things, like going to church on Sundays, Sunday school as most families did then, but my parents weren’t Christians.

In 1976 my secure, happy childhood was soon to be shattered, when we had a car accident travelling to Inverness. A foreign driver hit our car head on. They were driving on the wrong side of the road.

I can still remember the impact of the car hitting us and crying to God "NOT US!". Everyone but my sister was hurt, I had two broken arms. A week later my mother died of internal injuries. I was six years old, my sister was four years old. I just couldn’t understand why God had let this happen to us. ‘WHY US?’ We weren’t bad people. Did we do something wrong that we deserved this to happen?

Our world had turned upside down and even from that early age I had to blame someone and I blamed ‘GOD’, for letting this happen. ‘WHY US?’ I couldn’t get this out of my mind. My father decided to move to live with my Gran in North Tolsta in 1977.

My Gran to me was a very strict Christian lady. She worshipped in the local Free Presbyterian Church. We were brought up fairly strictly. We went to church every Sunday morning and night, with Sunday school in the afternoon. In between would be spent reading the Bible or religious books. T.V was a definite no, playing inside or outside was not allowed. As a child I couldn’t see what was the harm in watching T.V., having some fun on a Sunday and I wanted to be with the other kids in my class that would give a run down of Sunday viewing on T.V.

It was hard growing up without a mother and not long after we moved to live with my Gran, she took ill and was largely confined to bed. My father had to stay at home and become a full time carer.

I owe a lot to my father who must have had a hard time trying to look after Gran and two girls. We did have a happy childhood, a good life. I did enjoy Sunday school and with Gran’s teaching we usually did very well. There were long weekends though, especially when the communion season came, where Christians come together to remember the death of Jesus Christ. This started on a Thursday and ended on a Monday. During the communions we weren’t allowed to watch any T.V, no playing outside; we had to be on our best behaviour. Gran usually had plenty of visitors in and out all weekend. They were lovely, kind people. The Sunday of the communion season was different. Christians would sit at the Lords table, eat bread and drink wine, symbols of the broken body and shed blood of Christ. We didn’t really understand what all that meant and were looking forward to Monday, when normality would return. You just couldn’t imagine how long the weekends were!

In early 1980 an uncle came home to live with us and shortly after this my dad decided to buy a croft in Back and renovate an old house for us. Tension in Tolsta was starting to show. We were young, loud and very boisterous and Gran as she was getting older was finding it very hard to cope with us, so we moved.

A new chapter began. This was great real ‘freedom’, although we went Church on Sundays we were allowed to watch T.V. and do what we wanted. This was great.

Once I hit eighteen, my days of going out now started and how I enjoyed my Fridays and Saturdays. I very rarely went to Church then. Who needed it? I was having a great time.

Early 1990’s I met my future husband. My sister had gone to Inverness to do her nursing training and it was at that time my father decided to move to Inverness to start a new life for himself.

I was 21 years old and a house to myself. What freedom, no one to answer to, or was there? I carried on going out and drinking quite a lot at the weekends. What hangovers I used to have! But I did start to think more of how, I was now on my own. No-one to guide me and I did feel very lonely I also felt guilty visiting Gran and trying to cover up the way I was leading my life.

I decided to find a church that I would feel comfortable in. I started going with different friends to their churches on a Sunday, but none really appealed to me. I suppose my motives weren’t right in deciding to go to church. I was thinking along the lines of where I would get married etc.

Someone told me about the Associated Presbyterian Church. They had recently split from the Free Presbyterian Church. I went on my own one Sunday feeling very nervous, but I really enjoyed being there. The minister Rev.G.I.Macaskill was explaining the invitation Christ offers. He likened it to a wedding invitation or whether we accept or send our regrets and say no thanks. Our names are at the table are we going to accept.

I had never heard a sermon put so simply yet so powerfully. I decided to go the following Sunday. In my younger days in Tolsta we were brought up to fear the minister. I couldn’t get over how friendly this minister was, he would shake everyone’s hand as they left the church and after a couple of weeks going there, he knew my name. This meant a lot, I just wasn’t another number.

I was really enjoying my Sunday nights, but Friday and Saturday were still the main highlight of the week. I really enjoyed being with people and pubs were a great place to meet. Usually after a Sunday sermon I would pray to God that He wouldn’t let me go to Hell, but not to save me right now as I was having too much of a good time. Perhaps when I was married, had a family or better still to leave it until I was old enough to retire. Even knowing how quick life can be taken, just like my mother at the age of 32, I still thought I had plenty of time; I didn’t want my life to change.

Each passing Sunday it was bothering me more and more, I knew I was a sinner. I knew that Christ had paid the price to give us eternal life, but no, not now I was to young. Religion was for older people. I couldn’t understand how people enjoyed going to church even on a weekday, surely Sunday was enough.

I married in 1996 at the age of 26. I was working with a great bunch of people at Scottish Hydro Electric. We had many parties! I was usually the last person to leave. Latterly there was only one Christian working with me, Iain Mackenzie. Iain always gave me a lecture (in a nice way) when he used to have to take me home from work with a hangover. On Mondays I repeated the ministers story for the children to Iain. It was the part of the sermon that would stick with you, but I was setting myself up for Iain to ask was I saved at the weekend? Was I listening to the message? Oh I had the excuses, why not?

I had another Christian friend Joan Frieslick, who when I look back on her faith she was an inspiration to me.

I really enjoyed being in Christian company even knowing how lost I was and had no true desire to be found. I would pray to God that I would be saved however looking back I wasn’t 100% committed. I was scared that God would really answer my prayers and what would I do? I just didn’t want my life to change, I had a good husband and a beautiful home, I didn’t need anything else!

One week our minister came to visit and just at the end of the visit he asked, "would I say I was converted?" I knew the answer was no and that was one of the hardest things to admit. The following day I told Iain at work about the visit. He frightened me by saying that God would only knock at my heart for so long! I could only refuse for so long. He shocked me by saying that one day maybe people would stop praying for me. That had been my safety net. I knew that my Gran and friends were praying for me and I couldn’t imagine a day that they would give up on me.

The next Sunday there was going to be an adult baptism. It was the first time I had heard an adult openly confess they believed in Christ and wanted to say Christ was her Saviour. It was a lovely night. That Sunday the minister preached on Acts chapter 8 where God commanded Philip to go into the desert and speak to an Ethiopian Eunuch, who was searching the scriptures but was not understanding them.

Philip obeyed! God was interested in one person. Philip had a successful ministry but one person was just as important. The Ethiopian Eunuch’s were not liked and the minister ended by saying this man had no one to pray for him, he was really alone. We were sitting there while grannys, mothers, and fathers prayed for us, yet the Eunuch believed but we don’t.

I was refusing God. It made me feel very humble. Here I was privileged having people praying for me, yet it was not enough! The following day Iain asked again if I had made a commitment. I so wanted to say yes but was terrified what that would mean to my life. Would my friends still want me to be their friend? Would my workmates treat me as normal? I thought that I would wait till next Sunday and see if the sermon would hit home like last Sunday. Iain reminded me of the people who had recently died in the Omagh bombing in Ireland. He said "they expected they would see next Sunday but they were killed on Saturday!" I knew then that tomorrow wasn’t promised or the next hour. I knew I couldn’t go on like this. I left work and went to see a young Christian friend, Donna.

I asked Donna what should I do. I couldn’t stop the tears flowing. Would I be strong enough to leave my worldly enjoyments? Donna just explained how wonderful God was and once I made that commitment God would take all these desires away. She asked me to come with her to the prayer meeting that night and see how I would get on. I found myself saying yes straight away. The relief of finally making a decision was immense!

I remember the psalm they sang. It was Psalm 119 the 12th part especially verses 92 and 93:

Unless in thy most perfect law

My soul delights had found

I should have perished, when as

My troubles did abound

 

Thy precepts, I will ne’er forget:

They quick’ning to me bought

Lord I am thine, O save thou me

Thy precepts I have sought

I felt myself saying again and again "Lord O save thou me". I felt that psalm was for me. I knew finally that I had accepted the Lord as my Saviour. It had taken me a long time but I’d finally come home!

I have so much to thank God for. The Christian friends, and a lovely church with a caring minister who has been there for me each step of the way. The Lord has also blessed us with a lovely daughter called Laura Anne.

Looking back I now see that what happened to us at an early age happened for a reason. Yes I lost a mother at early age but the Lord used this to take us and put us into a Christian home. To have an upbringing that I now class as invaluable. Instead of saying ’WHY US ‘I say WHY NOT US’, for we deserve nothing. We lost that right. I now sit at the communion table and remember the price that was paid for us. There is a way. Christ paid our debts, and so we need not perish.

I pray that no one would WAIT for a ‘right time’ to ask Jesus into their lives. The ‘right time’ is now, not tomorrow or the next day.

I must finish by telling you my precious Gran died on the 1st of December 2000, we miss her terribly but her Lord has taken her home, a home she prayed for many a year. All I can say is ‘Where is our home going to be?"

Mrs Fiona Macleod (Leurbost, Isle of Lewis)