Welcome everybody. I’m Ruth Amos from ruthamos.com.au and today I’m with Patricia. Welcome Patricia. Do you want to be called Patricia?
And Patricia is someone very special because I don’t know her. This is the first interview I’ve done with someone I don’t know at all. Personally. But Patricia knows my family and my great uncle and aunt and everybody so that’s the way it goes.
But I saw a video that Patricia did at a recent training day and I thought, ‘I have to have this person on my podcast.’ So I rang her up and she’s been very gracious and has come on my podcast which is lovely. So I really appreciate that and I think you will be as blown away by her story as I was.
But no pressure, Patricia.
You’re very welcome.
Thank you very much. Look if my story helps somebody else, that’s all that’s important really. I was very reluctant to do it, actually, for the training day.
It’s a wonderful story.
However, God won. God won the battle.
He tends to do that.
He does, doesn’t he?
So can you tell us how you became a Christian?
I was brought up in a large family and my Dad and Mum were really very busy. I was born in 1930 and that was just the time when our society was beginning to emerge from the Great Depression. And my Mum and Dad, I never remember them reading the Bible. They had a Bible, a very big family bible up on top of their dresser in the sitting room, and as kids we had to climb up on a stool to get the Bible down to answer our Sunday School lessons. Because they sent us to Sunday School, and occasionally they would come to church.
But because there were so many of us and my Dad was a butcher and he raised his own stock, killed his own stock, and sold his own stock, he had two runs to the country twice a week. So they had really busy lives. Because he had to grow crops as well to feed to the cattle and so on.
So how many children were there?
So we were sent to Sunday School but I never ever heard about a relationship with God. So I grew up thinking, if you try hard to be good, I thought well if was a good kid and I didn’t disobey my Mum and Dad too much, then maybe one day when I die I’d go to heaven.
That’s not quite the gospel is it?
Not quite the gospel, no.
But anyway there were two families, one lovely family had a lot of boys and one daughter. And also our Bible study lady who was a spinster, she taught us Bible stories. And I think that, looking back I really think that she had a relationship with God.
So one night there was an evangelist, a travelling evangelist who came to our town (Ulverstone up on the North West Coast) and the daughter, the only daughter of this family, said to me, ‘would you come?’ So I had to get permission from my Mum and she, when she heard I was going with this lovely lady, she was very happy for me to go.
So that was the first time I ever heard that being a Christian wasn’t just rocking up to church and Sunday School, and trying to do right. That everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s standards and that I needed to have a relationship with him.
And he made it very clear that Jesus had died for my sin, had made this way for me to know him. And it didn’t happen right then and there, I walked around for two months feeling very convicted. One night just walking along I stopped at the end of our street and said, ‘I can’t go on any longer.’ Because one of the verses he’d used and it was with me all the time, was from Revelation 3:20 ‘I’m standing outside the door and knocking, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I’ll come in and have fellowship with him and he with me.’
So I’d had this thing happening, my mind thinking, I haven’t opened that door of my heart to him. So I just answered, ‘I want you to come into my life’ and of course, he did. And that began the relationship.
Somebody, I must have told somebody and I can’t remember whom I told, but I was given a little John’s gospel, a little pocket gospel. I was 16 at the time and I was in my last year at high school. And I used to take this little gospel with me and read it whenever I got an opportunity. But always under cover because I was scared that if somebody found out that I was a Christian I wouldn’t have any friends. Isn’t it interesting? And that obviously was so important to me at that time.
However, God was at work, and his Spirit was at work, and I became thirsty and hungry to know him more.
When I was 17 I started nursing training and there was a group of lovely Christian nurses at the hospital and they took me under their wing and helped me grow as a Christian and we had lovely fellowship.
It’s really interesting, somebody shared with me just recently that we’re in the family, God brings us into the family through a relationship with Jesus. But then we grow in the family because we need the family to help us grow, wherever that might be.
I love that.
Yeah, it’s good isn’t it? I love that too, I thought it was good.
So that’s how I became a Christian.
So did you work, you worked as a nurse and that was your major work through your life?
Yes, I did, in those days it was four years general training and then I met this handsome young man from Launceston and he said, ‘when you do midwifery, come to Launceston and do your training there.’
So you were planning to do midwifery? Or did he tell you to?
No, no. He didn’t tell me to. I was planning to do it.
And so off I went, but just before I went, his father – he worked at his father’s shop – and that was sold. They’d been trying to sell it for years and couldn’t sell it, and eventually it sold and he was without a job. And his uncle who was in Coonarven in WA said, ‘come and work for us’. So the whole of the time I was doing midwifery training, which was nine months, he was away. But in hindsight it was good because I could concentrate on my studies.
So I did my midwifery and then I worked, I only worked for about six months in hospitals. My Mum was very ill and my sister who was just a bit older than me had been caring for her and she got married. So I went home to look after my Mum.
And then about twelve months later, I got married. And we had six children, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. We had five boys and the fifth boy presented with jaundice and he was orange when he was born. We didn’t know that my husband was Rh+ and I’m Rh– so the Rhesus factor was strong. And Chris had to go from Ulverstone to Launceston for an exchange transfusion. So then, after we got through all that, they said, ‘Don’t have any more children.’ Because they’ll be badly affected.
Well about four years later my daughter started to make her presence felt and it was a very hard pregnancy because we’d been told she could be stillborn, or miscarried, or brain-damaged. And so she was born six weeks premature, she had to be brought on, because she was badly affected. And they told us twice in three days that she wouldn’t make it through the night.
I’m telling you all this because I think this is all leading into what comes next.
I was so tired. But we got through and went through lots of hoops to have her blood taken, and another transfusion after she’d come home after six weeks in hospital. And life was pretty hectic.
With five boys and an unwell daughter, yeah. That would do it, that would make it hectic.
Yeah it did.
I was about 42 I’ve worked out when I entered into this horrible depression.
We would just say that was postnatal depression now?
Well my daughter, by this time she would have been seven. So I was tired. It could have been a form of postnatal depression and I just battled through it, and then there was a catalyst that started it all off. It was bang, bang, bang, anyway …
So I entered into that. There’s a lot that I can’t remember about that time which is really good.
I know I was on anti-depressant drugs and walking around feeling like a zombie, and feeling like ‘I can’t do this’. It all got so bad I just wanted to opt off the planet.
I tried a couple of times, but thankfully unsuccessfully.
And one of my sons came home from uni on holiday to find his Mum really depressed. And he said, ‘Mum, why are you depressed?’ I ended up saying, ‘They’re saying I’m having a breakdown.’ A nervous breakdown they said in those days.
And he said, ‘Have you memorised scripture?’
I said, ‘Yes, but I haven’t got the brain to remember it. My brain is so tired.’
He said, ‘You can remember where you live, your phone number, and a few other things. You can memorise scripture.’
So he got me going on memorising scripture. Not only that, but he taught me how to meditate. And I had never been taught about meditating on God’s word.
He said, ‘I want you to learn this verse.’ He was associated with The Navigators. And they were very strong on scripture.
He said, ‘When I come home for my next holiday I want you to memorise these twelve verses, and I want you to tell me how you’ve meditated on them.’ And he started off with Philippians 4:13 ‘I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.’
And I realised that I hadn’t really been relying on Christ to give me strength up to this time. So I guess I’d reverted to being a nominal Christian. You know, to turn up at church and look good. And in those days you wouldn’t dare tell anybody that you were depressed. Because that would be so un-Christian.
However, I’ve found it very freeing since all this thing happened, this video thing that wasn’t intended for anybody else but clergy in Melbourne.
Anyway, I was climbing up to get all the medication I had. I kept the medication in the house in the top shelf in a high cupboard. And I thought, ‘I’m going to take it all.’ When my Mum was really sick, just before she died, we had to give her morphine injections. So I knew that the leftovers were there and I thought, ‘I’ll take everything I can find.’
I was climbing up the steps, and into my head came, ‘I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.’ And it was almost like that voice saying, ‘If you trust me I’ll give you the strength to get through this.’
So I got down and I got through the first hour and so on, and so on. I got through the first day, and through the first week. And it went on and on and on.
And I won’t say I was never depressed again, I was. But because I was learning to trust God’s word, it came alive to me. That was what really got me through.
Do you have any tips for meditating on scripture that you could tell us?
Well only what was shared with me, and it seems to be effective. Even with one favourite verse, we’ll take that one for instance, I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. So what does it say? Who is relying on Christ? I. Can – take it word by word, and then take it phrase by phrase. Think about who you trust in to give you the strength. God is. What a promise! That he will give us the strength if we trust him. So it’s really just taking it little by little and thinking about it and somehow the Spirit of God takes that.
And opens it up to you.
So instead of thinking about how miserable I was, I began to really find that God was giving me that strength.
And you rewrite the pathways in your brain, don’t you?
I think that’s probably what is happening, yeah.
Although I’m sure it’s encouraging for people to hear that it wasn’t a miracle cure that just changed everything overnight. It’s a journey.
Yes it was. And it was really interesting because not long after I’d come through that initial stage of trusting God and getting that into my thinking, I was reading in the Psalms one day and Psalm 92 and I think it’s about verse 12 to 15, it’s talking about those who have been made righteous in God (through Christ of course, there’s no other way) that we’re like palm trees. What’s a palm tree like? Strong, tall. Or a ceder of Lebanon and that’s a tall tree, a strong tree. And even in their old age they will still remain fresh and green and bear fruit and be able to say at the end of their life, ‘the Lord is good.’ So I underlined it, I thought, ‘that’s so lovely’ you know how when you’re reading the Bible sometimes, the Spirit of God makes it jump out at you and you think ‘that’s beautiful.’ So I underlined it and I thought, ‘I don’t think God could ever use me when I’ve tried to opt off the planet, when I’ve been so tired, and so whatever and the focus would go back on me.’ And I forgot about it. It was in my very old Bible.
And then we had all these wonderful young people come in because we started using the Navigator Bible studies. We had nurses from the hospital come and say, ‘Would you do Bible studies with us? Will you pray with us?’ And we said ‘Yes, when can you come?’ ‘Six o’clock on Monday morning?’
Oh OK! Good, good.
So we had all these lovely young people coming and we were helping them, but they didn’t realise that they were strengthening me as well.
So that was a beautiful time in our lives. And I was doing Bible studies that really encouraged me and helped me as a mum and a wife. That was great.
And one of the wonderful Bible studies was The Way of Agape by Nancy Missler. And she’s gone to be with the Lord now. So we got her out to the North West Coast and she had a seminar with us so that was the beginning of a journey of being refreshed and refilled. That’s an ongoing thing, isn’t it? Billy Graham says, ‘I leak. The trouble is, I leak.’ And so we have to keep on being filled.
And that was my first encounter. I guess it was an encounter with the Spirit that I hadn’t really understood before. I know I received the Spirit of God when I became a Christian, because things changed. But I think I didn’t understand what it meant to be filled with God’s Spirit until I went through that time.
When we retired to Port Sorell there were two lovely women that I used to meet weekly with and pray. One of them was associated with Prison Fellowship. I don’t know if you know anything about that. It was started by Charles Colson that was during President Nixon’s presidency when the Watergate affair happened with the secret papers. And Charles Colson was the scapegoat for President Nixon.
President Nixon didn’t go to prison but he was, what do you say when a president is dethroned?
Yes, that’s right. He was impeached and Charles Colson went to prison. And he was horrified when he saw the condition of American prisons. And he thought, ‘I’ve got to do something about this.’ He’d become a real believer, he was a head believer, a nominal Christian like I was I guess, but just before he went into prison he became really born again. And that was a journey from brokenness to healing. And when he came out he started this Prison Fellowship. It’s world-wide. There’s volunteers in every state in Australia. This last year they just opened the organisation in the Northern Territory. So we’re just hoping that those lovely Aboriginal people will get to benefit from that because there’s been some horrible things happening there. So that’s lovely and there are a couple of workers there now.
So Prison Fellowship we were praying for in our little weekly prayer group. And then when David died, my husband died, I stayed on for another five years. We had ten years there together and then I stayed on for another five.
And then my eldest son said, ‘Mum we’re buying a property and we’d like to build a granny flat, will you come and live with us.’ So that’s how I’m here. They built this on.
And it’s a beautiful place. Just gorgeous.
Yes, it is lovely.
So, you moved down to Hobart to this Granny flat …
And then a dear friend from the same area where I lived, was sent to prison for something that he didn’t do. And his wife wasn’t well, and I said to her, ‘would you like me to go and visit, when you can’t visit, when you can’t come down. Like, in-between visits.’ She said, ‘Oh that would be wonderful.’
We went in and it was so in your face, so daunting, it was horrible. Going through security and seeing sad people. Hearing people shouting out. It was just horrible.
I remember there was a dear old couple, a couple of months older than me, but a dear old couple and I’m sure it was their son they were going to visit. And I thought how sad to have to come and visit your son in prison.
So I thought I’ve got to do more. So I took this need to a prayer group I was involved with. One of the ladies she’s actually physically disabled, but a warrior, a prayer warrior.
She said, ‘We have to do something about this. We have to go to that prison and sit in the carpark in our cars and we have to pray for that prison.’
So we went for about three or four years. And then she couldn’t drive her car so I used to go, and still do. About once a fortnight I go to the outside and pray for the prison.
But I started to pray that God would show me what I could do. What else I could do. And I went to an Art From the Inside exhibition. It’s put on by the Prison Fellowship every year. Each state gets prisoners to paint or do craft and they have an exhibition that is open to the public. And I went to the one that was in the old Cambridge St gaol. I was so moved by the stories of why they had written about this particular theme that I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve got to somehow reach them, somehow, I don’t know how.’
And so I mentioned it to the then manager for Tasmania, Ray Metcalfe, and he said, ‘will you come in to observe, I’d love for you to come in to the Shine program’ Have you heard of Shine?
I’ve heard of Shine. But in high schools.
It was originally designed for high schools but they’ve also adapted it for prison.
And I said, ‘What do you do?’
So he gave me a manual and I thought, ‘I don’t know about this, I don’t think I could do this’. However, I developed cancer, so it was put on hold, and I had surgery and I thought, ‘oh well, that’s it I suppose, I’m not going to get into prison.
Most people aren’t disappointed about not getting into prison.
Anyway, the thing I dreaded, I sailed through the surgery ok, and then was about to go back to see the surgeon to see if I needed chemo. and I was in panic mode, I dreaded chemo. At my stage in life, why would they want to keep me alive anyway? And I had to really face up to this trauma of me going through that. And so my daughter had given me a beautiful song that she’d written out for when I had the surgery. It’s called Oceans. And I thought, well that’s lovely, yes, I got through that alright. But when I was having this panic attack I thought, ‘What am I going to do, Father? What am I going to do?’
Well, ‘Get that poem out, get that song out’.
So I got the song out and read it again, and that’s when it became really, it really ministered to me and it got me through. Just thinking about, well, it was like he was saying to me, ‘I’ve been faithful to you and got you through the surgery, don’t you think I’m still with you? When the waters rise keep your eyes on me.’
I’m a slow learner, I think.
I think we all are. We go round and round the mountain.
So I went off to see the surgeon really at peace. And he said, ‘Do you want the good or the bad news?’
And I said, ‘Oh well, whichever. Whatever.’
So he said, ‘Well I had to take out 20 inches of your bowel.’
And I’m thinking, ‘Oh yes, well we have got a lot.’
He said, ‘Yes, you can manage without it. But the good news is, you don’t need chemo. Because I’ve got it all.’
God is so faithful.
So five years down the track I haven’t [relapsed], and now I don’t have to go every six months and have checkups or whatever.
So then it was, ‘Now, will you come to prison?’ and then the process of applying and having police checks and all those types of things.
Because that takes quite a long time, doesn’t it?
It does, yes. It was about nine months altogether. So I went into the Shine program. Well I just thought, ‘I just want to take all these ladies home!’
And one of the chaplains at that time said to me, ’85% of the women are here because they haven’t been parented well. They don’t know how to parent. Some of them have had their children taken from them. And they’ve landed themselves in here. The other 15% are because they are victims of domestic violence or for some other reason.’
So I went in and I thought, ‘What am I going to do about this? You’ll have to guide me, Father.’
So I had a lovely time in the Shine program. Two lovely young women, much younger than me, shared with the women and really helped them to learn how to set goals and get a different thinking about what they would do. And I thought, ‘that’s good.’
And then someone said, ‘ Would you be prepared to mentor somebody?’
I love one-on-one.
So I said, ‘Yes, alright, I’ll do that.’ So that was the next step.
And that was a real milestone for me being able to see this lady. I would pray before I went, ‘Father what do you want me to share today?’ and every time he would give me something. I’d get there and she’d say, ‘So what did he give you today for me?’ It was so special.
And then of course it’s been mentoring and visiting since then. And then one lady who had been doing craft wanted to put her attention on visiting, so they said, ‘would you help the lady who goes in to do card making, would you help her with that?’ So that’s what I’ve been doing on a Thursday for two hours in there.
And at that group we have forms in Prison Fellowship and a read out – this is what’s available. You can have somebody visit, you can have somebody do Bible study with you, you can have somebody to check up on your family if they’re struggling. We will help you when you get to going out on a visit outside and coming back – they call it section 42 (I don’t know why). Somebody to just be alongside them and help them out.
So they have to come and say, ‘I’d would really like this.’
Prison Fellowship also provide birthday presents for children up to 16, and the parent can write the sort of things that they would like, and we will buy those and they would write a little verse or something, a little message. Same thing with Christmas presents.
How much of your time, do you reckon this takes up every week?
Well, because two women have come out, that I mentored, I don’t want to see them go back in and I’ve been supporting them and they’ve both have become Christians. One is doing really well and she’s now being supported by someone from a church. She’s doing an Alpha course and she’s really going well.
So after I’ve been in, quite often I go to see her because I’m sort of half-way there to visit. So I guess from the time I leave home on Thursdays, usually just before 9, and I’m probably only home at 3.
That’s a big day
It is for an old woman.
And then the other one I’ve been seeing on Wednesdays and because she has her children it’s just a bit tough at the moment, trying to nail that one down. But anyway, she’s God’s responsibility and I just fit in when I can.
And then on Wednesday afternoons at the moment I’m visiting someone who’s asked for a visit. So I leave home at the same time, just before 9, visit the first one, and then might just have time to go and do some shopping, or just to go and sit quietly or have a nana-nap somewhere like Risdon Vale Dam. And then going back to prison for, it’s only half an hour, but it takes about an hour by the time you get in and get out again.
So I guess probably two full days a week.
And is a similar thing happening in the men’s prison?
Yes. Not card making.
I heard on the news that there was around 40 female prisoners but ten times that many male prisoners. So the need is very great there.
Yes it is. And they have three wonderful chaplains. One of them volunteers one day a week and she’s only paid two days a week when she could be paid three. And then there’s two other chaplains, Luke is really the main chaplain and he’s a lovely man. So they do quite a bit and Prison Fellowship, we work in with them ( I think I said that, didn’t I). We work in conjunction with the chaplains.
Once the ladies have filled out requests we hand the request forms to the chaplain and he or she OKs it and then they’ll be in touch with Prison Fellowship who will assign someone for the things.
So I guess we are the main people who do one on one, but there are other organisations who go in, like Hillsong go in for a, they have a worship time. And then there’s a volunteer who goes in and plays her guitar. So she goes in to men’s minimum and medium and they have a service once a fortnight (I think it is).
In my church, it was really interesting because I don’t know if you know anything about the church next to the prison but it’s called Family Church, I think or Community Church, and they do a wonderful job. The pastor there has got that place on his heart, and he’s got a wonderful ministry there and the prison recognise that. He’s started getting children to have video sessions with their parents and he started children’s days where the children can go in. They have to have permission, of the person who is caring. And that’s just an amazing thing that’s been happening.
And I thought, ‘Lord, do you want me to start going to that church? I could probably be more involved with that.’ And I felt God was saying, ‘No, I want you to stay where you are, because I want you to make people aware of what they can do.’
So letter writing is a big thing. And do you know, there are three people at my church now who write letters. And last weekend in our little connect group, where we pray for the prison as well, these two ladies shared how they’d had a reply from the women that they’d written to and that doesn’t always happen. They were so excited that they got a reply and so encouraged to know that the letters to them was making a difference. So that’s special.
And then, so there are six women altogether now who are involved in Prison Fellowship. So I’m really thankful that God said no, not to go. He said, ‘stay where you are and make it known.’
And how have you found your experience with depression has helped in relating to people in the prison?
I think God uses broken people. I’m sure of that. When you’re willing to let him pick you up and put you together again, it’s very special. Because it’s almost like a rite of passage if you happen to share that I’ve been there.
I have a lovely little illustration of Japanese Art called Kintsugi. Do you know that?
Yeah, but do describe it, it’s amazing.
Well, when I saw it, I just thought, ‘that’s the story of my life’ So I got my daughter in law, she has a printer, and she prints out these beautiful pictures of a piece of pottery that has been broken. And if it’s a special piece of pottery, they don’t chuck it out like we westerners do, and buy another one. They put it together with a glue mixed with gold dust. And it enhances, it makes the art form even more beautiful, through the scars that are enhanced with gold.
And when I found that I thought, ‘it’s so wonderful, that’s what you do God. You take our brokenness.’ It really is Romans 8:28-29 for me because it says (I’m paraphrasing) God uses everything, even the hard things in our lives to make us more into the image of his Son, if we let him, of course. Because he knows beforehand what’s going to happen, and when we’re willing to come to him with our broken pieces and he can mend them and make them even more beautiful, I think that’s so lovely.
So I take these little pictures of the pottery that’s been mended and they use them on their cards sometimes. So they say to me sometimes, because it’s changing, the population in there is changing all the time, so I take them in and they say, ‘What’s this Miss Pat?’ (They call me Miss Pat – that’s my nickname in there.)
‘What’s this Miss Pat?’
‘That’s the story of my life’
‘What do you mean?’
So it gives me this lovely opportunity to say, ‘I’ve been broken.’
‘What? How did you get broken? What do you mean?’
And it gives you the opportunity to say, ‘My life isn’t perfect, it still isn’t. But when you’re in touch with the one who made us, and you bring your brokenness to him, he can mend it and make it even more beautiful. So you have the opportunity while you’re here to let him do that in your lives, if you’re willing.’
So that’s given some opportunities to share.
Would you encourage people to get involved with Prison Fellowship? Here in Tasmania, but also, I’m hoping I’ll have an audience in the wider world so …
Well I would because but I think you would need to ask God what he wants you to do.
It seems like there’s different levels of commitment. I mean you can go in, but you can write letters, or you can pray.
Pray. Pray. Praying is the most wonderful thing. I’ve got these wonderful women who pray for me, and I guess some of the men do too. Every week in our church bulletin there’s a little prayer list and I look at it and think, ‘This is so good.’ ‘Pray for our volunteers with Prison Fellowship.’ You know, these dear women, just to write a letter to somebody is just so encouraging. But to pray is even more wonderful.
And I think I couldn’t go in there if I didn’t have the assurance that the folk that I know pray are praying.
It was really interesting. When I turned 80. This was before I went into prison, when I was just praying for the prison, my friend and I would go and pray. But before I volunteered to go in, my family, one division of my family was going overseas. So the rest of the family said, ‘Mum, we’d love you to go and will you go?’ So I went with them.
When I came back I stayed with my daughter in Melbourne and she said, ‘I’ve put you in our caravan because you probably will have jet lag and you’ll need to sleep a lot.’ I said, ‘OK’ Never had jet lag, didn’t know what to expect.
The first night I woke up at about 3 o’clock in the morning, and I felt I heard God’s voice, ‘I want you to be called by the name that your mother gave you.’ And I’m thinking, ‘Am I having jet lag? Is this what happens with jet lag?’
‘No, you’re not having jet lag. It’s my voice talking to you.’
So I said, ‘OK Lord, why do you want me to be called Patricia, I’ve been called Pat for 80 years, how am I going to be called Patricia?’
He said, ‘Start with the people you haven’t met yet and tell them what your name is when you meet them.’
I said, ‘Why do you want me to be called by my name.’
He said, ‘Because it means “noble”.’
And I said, ‘But I don’t feel noble.’
He said, ‘You are, because you’re my child, and I’m the King of kings.’
And he said, ‘I’m giving you authority.’
And I’m saying, ‘What are you giving me authority for?’
‘If you’ll listen to me, I’ll tell you. Just keep listening.’
Well three years later, when I had my cancer, that’s when he really made me think, ‘OK. Is this what you mean?’
So, when I’m going in, when I go to the reception room at the prison, you have to clock in. No not, clock in, scan in. And then you walk down, and it takes about 7 or 8 minutes to walk from reception down to the women’s prison. You go through lots of security. And so there’s not one time I go down there when I don’t say, ‘Father, you’ve given me authority, so I put on the armour. I’m going in, just control everything today. And I go in your name. So whatever comes, whatever happens, help me to be aware of your voice, and to share what you give me.’
And I find that is just a really special thing. So I think that was for me, that understanding that I do have his authority as his child. Pretty awesome, isn’t it?
There’s a couple of questions I ask everybody. So we’ll finish with these.
When do you feel closest to God?
When I’m still enough to hear his voice. And that’s a big thing for me, to be still. I’m a doer I think. But when he speaks to me from his word, and when he encourages me when I do hear his still small voice, that’s very special.
And I feel, I can’t nail it down to one thing, when I’m worshipping with my fellow believers in my church fellowship. That’s when I feel close to God too.
We have this gorgeous little boy, he’s the son of our rector. And a couple of weekends ago, a couple of Sundays ago, his daddy was leading us in worship and this little guy, he stood for the whole of the song. He wouldn’t be any more than about 14 months old, just standing there looking at his daddy playing his guitar and his mouth organ all at the one time. And you could tell his daddy was really worshiping and he was just standing there. And it was like God whispered to me, ‘That’s how I want you to gaze at me, like this little boy.’ And into my head came, ‘A little child shall lead them.’ So I thought that was so precious because I think that’s what he wants most of all. Us to gaze at him.
What’s something about God and Christianity that you wish everyone knew?
I wish they would realise that it’s not religion that – religion doesn’t get you anywhere, but relationship is what God longs for. Because I had to learn that through brokenness, I think that’s the most important thing that I want to say.
And I think that’s why he’s opened the door for me to go in and share. It’s not religion, it’s relationship.
Are you still committing verses of scripture to memory?
I’m trying. Yes. I do love it. And I’m a bit slower than I used to be but I carry a verse around in my handbag and hopefully it will stay there. I have to look at it a lot more often than I used to. My brain isn’t as alert as it used to be.
What’s your verse at the moment?
It’s Psalm 37, this is from the Passion translation. ‘Keep trusting in the Lord, do what is right in his eyes. Fix your heart on the promises of God and you will be secure feasting on his faithfulness.’ That one in particular was lovely.
I always go through my interviews and I write out the scripture references and put them up on the show notes on the website, but I’m going to be really going today because you’ve put scripture, it’s been woven through the whole interview. It’s been lovely.
Well, thank you Ruth, because it really is important to me. I think when I saw the video that the Bishop had asked for, I said something and I thought, ‘That is right, that’s correct, I’m glad that came through.’ And it said, ‘To be in a place where the word of God is taught, has always been really important to me.’ And I guess probably because that’s the main way that God speaks to me. So I do love his word. I’d be lost without it.
Thank you so much for chatting with us today.
It’s a pleasure.
I’m sure it will bless many people, so thank you.
Thank you, Ruth. If it can do that, it’s worth it, isn’t it?