18 February 2012

Born again!

I went to that Campus Crusade meeting in a state of considerable unhappiness.  I was a Christian.  I knew that I was not living as a Christian should.  I wanted to do so - and yet did not do so.  I was living very much in St Paul's Romans 7 experience.  I do not think I knew the passage yet, but I could have echoed:
22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Dick and Carolyn Edic were the leaders of Campus Crusade in Honolulu.  Dick spoke that evening.  And what he spoke of was revolutionary for me.  He talked about what we came to call "The Bird Book"  The booklet was of the same format as Campus Crusade's famous "Four Spiritual Laws" booklet - a small-format pamphlet to be handed out to persons we talked to.

The Bird Book was about the Holy Spirit.  It was not charismatic in the commonly understood sense.  It simply said that God wanted me to live a holy life - but that I could not do so in my own power - "in the flesh."  The Holy Spirit was given to enable me to live as God intended.

I went home very excited - hence Susan's concern that I was on drugs again.  I began intensely to pray.  It was still enormous challenge, but I was determined to quit the drugs - and smoking cigarettes - and now believed that I could, with God's help.

I will say here, parenthetically, that those with more theology than I had at the time will quickly want to point out - what is quite correct - that as I had not been baptised yet, I could not have received the Holy Spirit.  Indeed, I was not confirmed until I became a Catholic, in 1995.

All this is true.  Yet ... God does not deny His help to any who sincerely ask it.  He works through His ordained Sacraments; He is not limited to them.

I experience two weeks of pretty fair agony in the second half of March, 1970.  By the end of that time, I had stopped smoking, and had stopped taking drugs.  I have neither smoked nor taken drugs since that time.

Susan began attending Campus Crusade meetings with me, and became personal friends with Carolyn Edic.  She and Carolyn went for coffee one day - and Susan told Carolyn that Sue and I were living together, thought not married - and asked Carolyn what she thought.  Sue says that Carolyn offered her a Bible verse - in fact, did what Campus Crusade typically does: opened her Bible and asked her to read it.  Sue does not remember what verse it was, but I suspect it may have been one of CC's favourite verses: I Corinthians 14:40 - "Let all things be done decently and in order."

I don't, after this much passage of time, remember the details, but I do recall talking with Dick, telling him my theory that we were married "in the sight of God" because we were already living with one another and considered ourselves (at least I considered us :-)) married.  He did not argue with me.

Within a week or two, we were no longer living together.  Susan's main job was working at the main office of First Hawaiian Bank.  Her friend Gerry Wyttenbach, who also worked there, told her of a friend, Carrie Street (now dead, from a car accident - may she rest in peace), who had a house and needed a housemate.  The house was at 2971 Koali Road.  She moved there in, I suppose, April of 1970.  When we were married, that was our home until we moved to Auckland, in February, 1973.

Things improved from then.  We quickly became regular Sunday attenders at Prince of Peace.  We were fully a part of the congregation.  We made close friends - Denny Wicks, Lois (forget her last name - in the Army), Reverend Fred Sapp, Assistant Pastor (whose Bible studies introduced me to the Athanasian Creed, and to wonderful evangelical hymns such as Amazing Grace and Just As I Am, Pastor Norm Hammer himself (another car accident victim) - and especially Bob and Vicky Feldhan - Bob who became my best man.

On 26 July, 1970 I was born again.  Pastor Hammer baptised me at the Sunday morning service.  Indirectly, this led to my and Susan's leaving the Lutheran Church.

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