My acceptance of Jesus as Lord of my life has occurred very recently. Although I went to a church school as a child, I rarely went to church. My parents were keen allotment holders and every Sunday was spent there, come rain or shine. As a result of this I grew up with a clear recognition of the wonders of God’s creation but little knowledge of the Bible or Jesus.
Thus, although as an adult, I thought of myself as a Christian, many of my ideas and attitudes were anything but Christian. That was until April this year. After a long period of illness I was diagnosed with cancer. As a biomedical scientist, I had already guessed what was wrong so I was not shocked when I found out. I knew that to beat cancer you had to be positive and I also knew that there was scientific evidence that prayer was one of the most effective ways of keeping positive. So when my wife, who is much more devout than I, said we must pray, I was happy to start.
The day after the diagnosis my wife went to Stephen and asked for prayer. On the following Sunday I was asked if my mother was all right as I had been mentioned at the morning service. I am afraid that my reaction was not very Christian as I felt I should keep the problem to myself. I failed at that time to appreciate the value of intercessory prayer. However, my wife had already spoken to our Christian friends so many people were praying for me.
Then a miracle happened. I had gone to see my mother and, as mothers do, the first thing she said to me was that I looked worried. I did not enlighten her but on my way home I began to think about this. I should not be worried. I was supposed to be positive, trusting in God. I thought about the only example of faith healing that I was aware of – Ann Cotton’s remarkable recovery from an operation. I reasoned that this was because she knew that God would heal her where as I only thought that He might. Clearly I needed to strengthen my faith.
On arriving home I began pottering in the garage and found myself singing “The Lord’s my Shepherd”. I couldn’t remember all of the words so I got out the hymn book and sat down and sang it through two or three times. When I finished I was filled with the most amazing sense of peace. I realised what St Paul meant when he spoke of the “peace of God which surpasses all understanding”. It was a wonderful feeling and central to it was the certainty that everything was going to be all right. Jesus had found me when I needed Him even though I had not asked Him.
A few days later I was in hospital and noticed some Gideon bibles. If I was going to be a real Christian I thought I ought to start reading His Word so I picked one of the books and flicked through it. My eye alighted on a paragraph in Mark and I read it. It included Mark 11:23 “I tell you the truth, if any one says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself in the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” Here was Jesus telling me what I had to do.
Keeping positive when you have cancer is very difficult. There are so many negative influences, from the effect of the symptoms to the attitudes of other people. Yet throughout this struggle Jesus has constantly helped me, through friends who know the power of prayer or by showing me appropriate scriptures at critical times. On one occasion I was in hospital and I had really lost all hope. I was awake most of the night and in the morning when the nurse came round she asked if I was in pain. “No”, I said, “just things on my mind.” Leaning forward she said “ You’ll get better if you’re determined” and, nodding at the Bible on the bedside table, made a prayer and praise sign with her hands. I shot out of my depression as if I was on an ejector seat.
So Jesus has given me hope and strengthened my faith. He has also changed my attitudes. I am more humble than I used to be, much more forgiving and I don’t harbour grudges the way I did. As far as I am able, I try to be helpful to other people and I am much more conscious of suffering in others. I don’t know what His plans are for me but I know that He is with me and will not let me go.
Graham went to be with the Lord on 2nd March 2004 aged 56.