Article of the week: ‘There is nothing the Lord cannot do!’

29 January 2022

Jim Gillard (Milton Keynes) shares how Jesus changed his life and set him free

I BELIEVE that God is working in our lives, even when we are not fully aware of him.

My first encounter with God was in 1960 when I was about 10 years old in the Boys Brigade, in a small chapel next to the main meeting hall.

It’s hard to describe what I felt at that time. I had no idea as a child who Jesus Christ was or what salvation meant, but I knew God was there with me and that he was my heavenly Father.

In 1977 I married Ann and we had two beautiful children – a girl and boy – and went on to have eight grandchildren. I knew I had been blessed. Nevertheless, I felt the weight of responsibility and that, in my own strength, I was not as good a parent as I wanted to be.

Ann and I loved each other, but we had differences and faced numerous difficulties. I knew I needed some help and guidance to be a better parent. I remembered the experience I had at the Boys Brigade and in 1985 I decided we needed to attend a church.

I lived in Neath Hill in Milton Keynes and set off to look for a church. I had only driven to the edge of my estate when a thought came into my mind: what about The Salvation Army?

Much to my surprise I discovered the Army met nearby. The following Sunday I took my family to the meeting and the corps officer at the time, Lieutenant Philip Garnham, invited me to his home. I shared my hope that the Army would help me to be a good example to my children.

The captain told me the good news of the gospel, that by believing in Jesus I would be saved and receive the Holy Spirit to help me in life and with my family.

I asked Jesus to come into my life and it changed from that point on. I had a new awareness that Jesus was my Saviour and friend, and I could not learn enough about his love for me.

It wasn’t long before I became a soldier. I have wonderful memories of this time: our marriage was blessed at the corps, my parents moved to the area and attended regularly. We experienced a special time of family togetherness and mutual spiritual love. My children, Emma and Anthony, became junior soldiers and, after her enrolment, Ann worked with the young people. I received local officer commissions and we were invited to different corps to conduct meetings.

In 2000, I faced difficulties on all fronts. My teenage son was convinced he had to make a new start somewhere and my parents died. These challenges took their toll and I stopped attending the corps. However, I continued to tell anyone who asked about my faith.

When I retired from work in 2011 I fell out with my younger sister at my farewell do. As a result, I turned to alcohol. This dependence on alcohol continued until September 2019.

I tried to give up drinking but failed. I went through deep depression. And yet others still approached me to talk about my faith.

Looking back, I think I misunderstood discipleship and forgot the story of Jesus in the boat when the great storm blew up. I should have realised that God still had a hold on me, even in those dark times.

But even when we are not true to him, God is true to us.

On 27 September 2019 I was invited to the funeral of a good friend, Kate. The minister said that, before her death, Kate had asked her funeral to be more about Jesus and less about her. This cut me right through to the bone, but the next weekend I had a few drinks as usual. I felt guilty. How could I pray when the drink had more of a hold on me than Jesus did?

I lay in bed in tears and suddenly found myself praying: ‘God please take this weight of dependence on drink from me!’ At that moment the weight was lifted. Soon after I started attending the corps again.

A miracle happened – God reached down and rescued me. There is nothing the Lord cannot do!

     Such love, pure as the whitest snow;

     Such love, weeps for the shame I know;

     Such love, paying the debt I owe;

     O Jesus, such love.

                                                     (SASB 199)

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