When I was 7, my parents divorced and had to sell our family home. As a child, I spent a lot of time asking my mum the value of that home so I could work out if I had enough money to buy it back. As an adult who now owns just 20 per cent of an apartment on a highway, while my childhood home is probably valued somewhere in the millions, some might say this was an impossible dream… and they would be right!
Looking back, I see that my heart was longing for stability, certainty and love. All that was very much put on the line in a worldly sense in my childhood, but God gently showed me that all of these things could only ever be found in a relationship with him.
I became a Christian at age 13. I was a kid who had sat in church and felt I knew God. Each year on my family camping holiday, a beach mission team showed up and invited us to their program to hear about God. And I would always feel irritated—I thought I already knew God and he didn’t need to follow me on my beach holiday.
I bagged out the people in the mission team for their Kathmandu outfits and general geekiness. When they would come around singing Colin Buchanan songs and encouraging people up to their tent I’d run and hide or cycle off. If their numbers were low I’d smile and think to myself sarcastically, “I wonder why?”.
I used to wonder why God allowed suffering to happen. I guessed that Christians mustn’t suffer and that their life was easy—that’s why they could be in their bubble of naive joy.
On the final night of the beach missions, they ran a service with singing, a testimony and a presentation of the gospel.
My dad bribed us with the treat of a movie if we went to the church service.
I remember singing these song words during the service:
You placed the stars in the sky
And you know them by name
You are amazing, God
All powerful, untameable
Awestruck we fall to our knees
As we humbly proclaim
You are amazing, God
It was a very apt reflection of what I saw when I stepped out on the oval hilltop and saw the stars without the city lights.
And then I heard Philippians 4. I heard about a Christ who can transform us to be content in all circumstances. And that seemed like a super power.
A lady shared her testimony that night too. I remember being struck as they asked her, “How is life still hard, even though you know Jesus?” This lady’s life was harder than my own. And so I realised that Christians suffered too, and I was opened up to the idea of people’s suffering in life with Jesus versus suffering alone.
I’ve now been a Christian for longer than I’ve been a wanderer, and knowing Jesus hasn’t fixed all my problems in this life. But I have been given the “super power” of contentment in all things. I have an eternal home in Heaven which isn’t dependent on my budget or the property market or my efforts to save. I have come from a broken family into a broader family of Christians who show me what God’s generous, pursuing and practical love looks like.
I remember being in despair as a teenager when someone once told me there will always be someone prettier than you and more ugly than you, skinnier than you and fatter than you. But the amazing thing about knowing Jesus is he loved me from the beginning of time and he loved me at my worst. He died for my rebellion and rejection of him to bring me back into the most important relationship of my life. My status is secure in him.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
David’s words in Psalm 23 reflect my own heart.
I see God’s mercies and goodness despite the brokenness of my own heart and this world. I long for my eternal home with Jesus. And in the meantime, my small patch of a unit on a highway—where I can tell others about my Friend and Saviour Jesus—brings me contentment daily.
Colin Buchanan is my
day-to-day hero as I sing his songs with gusto to my kids and although I may
not wear hard-core trekking gear, I am a typical Christian with that goofy joy
and good news of Jesus to share!
 Scripture Union runs beach missions at various popular holiday destinations throughout the year. At each mission, a group of Christians volunteer to set up camp and run programs on these sites to tell people about Jesus.
 Chris Tomlin, ‘Indescribable’, 2004.