A Personal Experience Of The Baptism Of The Spirit
St Salvator's Chapel, University of St Andrews
Photo: © Peter Hodge
Baptism As An Infant & Upbringing In A Christian Home
Shortly after I was born, my parents had me christened and baptised as an infant. Indeed I cannot remember a time when I was not aware of God, Jesus, sin, forgiveness and the need to walk God's way. My father, who was a minister in the Church of England for almost fifty years, and my mother, who had been a missionary nurse with CMS, taught me the things of God both through the Bible and through their lives. The result was that I knew a fair amount about God but did not have a personal relationship with him.
At the age of eight I was sent to a boys' boarding school, which had been founded as a Christian school, and where we attended chapel at least once every day and twice on Sundays. There I was prepared by the School Chaplain for confirmation at the age of 14. I had expected to be zapped by the Holy Ghost, as he was called in those days, but I discovered three days later to my great disappointment that nothing had changed. I was still the same typical adolescent I had been before.
The Search For Meaning Through Rationalism
My disillusionment with religion as a result of the confirmation episode led me to the belief that I had misunderstood things and that the answer must lie in intellectual pursuits and human wisdom. After leaving school and going to university I had bought into intellectual rationalism, and even contemplated establishing a humanist assocation. But I continued to be haunted with the possibility that God existed, and if he did, I did not want to be responsible for leading others astray.
In my last year at university I met a group of Christians, who seemed to have the assurance of salvation I lacked, and attracted by the warmth of Christian fellowship and intelligent debate made a fresh commitment to Christ. By this time I was engaged and my wife and I used to attend church, where we enjoyed the singing and the occasional sermon.
After graduating from university, training for teaching and marriage, my wife and I attended a fellowship with a group of students from various countries and enjoyed a Bible study group that met in our flat. A year after we married, we moved to a new job, new house and our first child arrived. The result was we became the typical nuclear family with no church or family connections to support us.
As more children arrived and the family grew, we drifted further and further away from God. It was the children who eventually led to our attending the local parish church, where they were going to Sunday School with their friends. The minister began visiting us and gradually we found ourselves being drawn back to church.
During one of his visits he commented:
"The problem with you is you're trying to work it all out in your head. Why not let go and let God show you he is real?"
At the time it seemed too simple and as if he was advocating frontal lobotomy to avoid using one's brain.