Author: Martin Elvidge
My belief system
For the first thirty years of my life, I lived by the following belief system.
“If I put my mind to it, there is nothing I cannot do and nothing I cannot achieve by hard work.”
Unfortunately, my belief system didn’t work very well for me.
- In high school, my classmates voted me the least likely to succeed.
- I failed my first year of university.
- I married my pregnant girlfriend when I was nineteen and became an absent Father, just like mine.
So I began to apply my belief system to life as my father had done.
I took a correspondence course in computer programming. By age thirty, I had risen through the public service ranks to become the assistant director of a major government department in Western Australia. Success! and more success will come if I just put my mind to it, stay focussed, and work hard. Work was now my life and my identity.
Thirty is a critical age. At least, it was for me. My marriage was on the rocks. I barely knew my children. My father-in-law was dying of cancer. I suffered a nervous collapse at work. That’s when I realized I was helpless, weak, and powerless to save myself, lost and ungodly.
I was on the floor weeping when it happened. My wife was in the hospital visiting her father, who had become a living skeleton ravaged by cancer. I couldn’t bear to see him, so I stayed home alone. I didn’t know who to talk to or what to do. I sat there on the purple sofa, head in my hands, my chest heaving, and my whole body wracked with anxiety and fear. Never before had I been so desperate.
Then I remembered. When I was eight years old, I was given a bible on the one occasion my mother took me to church. We had just returned to Australia from England in December 1955 and knew no one. Maybe Mum wanted to give thanks or ask for help from God. She never said. On that Sunday, she took me to the Anglican church in Scarborough. It was prize-giving day. All the kids in Sunday school were receiving their rewards. A bible. A tiny blue bible with rice paper pages and print-like ant tracks. The priest was looking around. “We have an extra one,” he said. “I see a young man visiting. This bible must be for him”. I was called forward and presented with the little blue book. A reward? No, a gift.
We were not a church-going family. As far as I could tell, no one prayed or believed. There was no bible in the house except mine. When I was fourteen, I had a strange compulsion to read it. I would sit in front of the fire on rainy days and read the bible from cover to cover. My mother would look at me as if I had grown another head, wondering, “what’s got into you?”. I didn’t know. Just a sense of comfort and reassurance from this little blue book with the old English language full of “thee” and “thou.”
I was now twenty-nine years old. I had carried that little bible with me since I was eight. It was almost forgotten now amongst all the books on the shelf. That day I took it down from the shelf and began to search its pages. Surely there would be an answer in here somewhere. Surely God would speak to me from its pages. In frustration, I threw that little bible across the room and cried out, “If there is a God, where are you?” He remained silent.
God spoke, and I received a new belief system
Then suddenly, I heard a voice say, “I’m Here.” I looked up, and there He was, right there in the lounge room. In a vision or the flesh – I don’t know. Jesus Christ stood there, stretching out his arms. He said, “Come.” So I did. I was not alone anymore. Just weak and helpless and needy. He held me. I cried. I fell to the floor and just cried and sobbed and wept. Maybe for an hour. I saw him standing at the front door, smiling when I came to myself. He signalled to me with his head. “Come.” And He was gone.
Four years later, I was ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Church of Australia and have been in ministry for 40 years. Jesus transformed my life. He gave me hope, a new career, and a new life companion. I met Sheila, and we married and have been in ministry together for 35 years. God restored the years that I had wasted, and I no longer embraced my old belief system but embraced a new one
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
In 1994 we heard God was moving in power in a church in Toronto, Canada, called Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, now called Catch the Fire. We were hungry for God and desired a fresh impartation of His love and anointing. We came to Toronto first in 1996 and returned 12 times over 24 years. Each time we visited, He revealed himself as He did at the beginning of my journey with Him. I saw Jesus extending an invitation with his arms of love, saying– come!
Just like his words in the little blue bible:
- Mat 11:28 “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.
- Mat 11:29 Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways, and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me.
- Mat 11:30 For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.”
Maybe you find yourself helpless, weak, and powerless to save yourself, lost and ungodly. Every crisis is an opportunity. Today is the day of salvation.
I encourage you to bring your burdens to Him and lay them down. Give Him your:
- anxiety and fear,
- need to perform
And rest. Just rest in His arms. He is waiting with outstretched arms.
About the Author
Martin Elvidge encountered Jesus in 1976 while Assistant Director of a Government Department in Western Australia. He was ordained to the Anglican priesthood four years later. He pastored three congregations until 1993 when he and his wife Sheila founded an independent charismatic Evangelical church, “The Well of Blessing.” In 1996 Martin and Sheila were profoundly impacted by the Toronto Outpouring and developed connections with Catch The Fire Ministries in Canada and Australia. They are now resident Pastors at Singing Waters Ministry centre in Ontario.
Cover Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash
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