Garden Tomb OriginalJohn 

An early photograph shows me dressed in ‘Sunday best’. Like most children of the forties and fifties Sunday School was not an option. I recall bare floorboards, a stage, a balcony and little wooden seats.
I remember receiving a book and thought I had won it. It was only much later I realised every child received a book at annual prize giving. My Godmother bought me a small framed print for my sixth birthday and I remember being so disappointed. I hoped I might receive a ‘Dinky’ toy.

A photograph taken on an old camera bought in the war; a children’s book about Elijah with words I could not read and pictures I did not understand; a framed print of ‘All things bright and beautiful’ by M W Tarrant; I regard these now as three valuable possessions. They serve to remind me of three vital lessons.
I was too young to realise them at the time and it has taken far too many years to fully appreciate their meaning.

I was ‘promoted’ and schooled for confirmation. I remember one occasion distinctly. I was sitting alone following a set service with mind wandering. I was in a dark place. “I could drop dead and no one would notice.” Next Sunday I walked across the road to the Methodist church and received an amazingly warm welcome. I felt the hand of Jesus. There were still bare floorboards and seats still wooden but there was something I craved; a belonging, a shared belief, a meaning, a purpose, an understanding, a reason to live, a joy and it was there I gave my heart to Jesus immersed in wonderful Methodist hymns with inspirational verses.

College, university, employment, three failed partnerships, unemployment, materialism, narrow-mindedness, all intertwined with shameful behaviour meant I fell by the wayside for many years with self-pity uppermost in my thoughts. A chance encounter online brought salvation from someone who bought me a Bible and said read John 3:16. I knew I must marry her and share the love of Jesus together. I did and we do.
Three vital lessons?
The photo. Someone loved me enough, considered me special enough to take my photo when the cost of photography was prohibitive. I now know God considered me special and loved me before I was even thought about. He loved me then. He loves me now.
The book. It was a simplified section of the Bible. I now read a passage from the Bible daily. It provides inspiration, comfort, guidance and knowledge.
The picture. Despite mawkish Victorian charm, it did have an effect as I would keep coming back to look at it. I still do; it now hangs on a bedroom wall. I try to keep a child’s view - unsullied, uncomplicated. Jesus ‘wanted me for a sunbeam’ then as He does now. There have been many years, far too many, where I thought I was alone and unwanted, unloved and unlovable. I now know this was never so.