This article is part of the #flamfaces series.
Say hello to Emily Fowler of Launceston.
I grew up as a nominal Catholic; attended Catholic schools, went to the occasional mass and knew the popular stories of the Bible. But the strange part is, I don’t remember anyone ever explaining to me who Jesus was and why he was sent to earth to die. One day I was sitting in mass, looking up at the crucifix that hangs above the alter and wondered, ‘Who are you?’
That night I had a sort of dream or vision. I was walking through the desert with Jesus on the way to Jerusalem. We didn’t talk, but I felt very comfortable and safe with Him. As we walked along, others joined us. I watched as Jesus interacted with all these different people from every walk of life. Some he healed, some he listened to and comforted, some he laughed with, some he gave advice to. The crowd grew bigger and more excited as we approached the city, and I was struck by how incredible this man was and what a powerful impact he could have on the world.
But once we were inside the gates, the crowd turned angry and violent. I felt myself being pushed and carried along by the crowd as people were shouting and guards were trying to keep the crowd back. I looked up to see what was going on and saw Jesus hanging on the cross. I was shocked and horrified by the scene. This was a man who was not only innocent, but good, kind and capable. I felt the weight of the injustice and was desperate to do something, anything, to make it stop. I heard myself yelling at the guards to stop, to let him go, and finally, to take me in his place. At that moment, I saw Jesus turn his face towards me, and in his eyes I knew the truth. That it was me who was meant to be on that cross, and he had taken my place.
After the vision, I wept.
It took a few months for me to understand what had happened and to put my experience into words. Now I know – that was the moment when I accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins and declared him Lord of my life.
My salvation experience was as real and vivid to me as if someone had taken a bullet for me. When someone gives their life so you might live, it changes you. You can’t keep living life as if it’s trivial and what you do doesn’t matter. You are so grateful and humbled by the gift of life, and to the one who gave it to you, that you know you can’t keep living as you once did.
Life is hard, but God didn’t intent for us to do it on our own. He intended us to do it with him, in community, and I have found that those two things, my faith and the Church have helped me through some of the biggest challenges of my life.
My six-year-old son has autism so parenting looks very different for us than for most families. We face many challenges and sometimes they feel overwhelming. Although there are great therapies and services available for children with disabilities these days, there are still some obstacles that can only be overcome with prayer. I am incredibly thankful for the prayer support we have received as a family since Jacob was born, and to be part of a church community that celebrates Jacob for who he is and who love and support us as parents.
Testing her faith
After my son was born I developed severe postnatal depression and anxiety which caused intense panic attacks and vomiting. I wasn’t able to keep any food or fluids down, and eventually became so dehydrated I was taken to emergency and admitted to Northside Psychiatric Clinic. Not long after I was released, my marriage broke down irrevocably and I was faced with the reality of being an unemployed, single mother and divorcee at 25. I felt like my whole world was falling apart.
But in that time I discovered that there is one thing that can never be taken away from me, and that was my relationship with Jesus. Even though I felt like I had lost everything, and the world was a very dark place for a time, I clung onto the promises that God had not forsaken me, and that somehow I would get through this.
And I did.
It was hard, and there was no quick fix or miracle. I am still facing many challenges that are a result of that time, plus new challenges that have cropped up along the way, but God’s faithfulness has never wavered.
Jumping into the river
After what had been an incredibly tumultuous decade, I have been approaching my 30th birthday feeling like life is finally starting to get into a rhythm. I am closer to building myself a nice and safe little life that is protected from more of life’s curveballs.
But lately, God has been challenging me about wanting to live a safe life.
I have this image that keeps popping up of God calling me to jump into the river and let it carry me downstream. I keep saying, ‘Yep, no problem, just let me first build a nice, strong, sturdy raft to carry me.’ But God is saying, ‘You don’t need a raft, you just need to trust me. If you wait to build a raft you’re going to miss the current!’
I’m realising that God rarely works in the safe zone, because when we feel safe, we rely on our own strength and not God’s. He often needs to pull us into the rapids, because that is the space where miracles can happen, and when we realise our own helplessness and powerlessness, then we give all the glory to God.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
No matter what you are going through, no matter what you have lost, whether it’s your health, love, dreams, hopes, income, career, family, your favourite show on netflix… the one thing that can never be taken away from you is the love of God, through the blood of Jesus.
photo credit: Sarah Haberle