I've been in France for a couple of weeks, enjoying the sun, and not enjoying the sea snails.
Whilst there I got to read a few of books - A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Houssini, Engleby by Sebastian Faulks and (excitingly!) The Unquenchable Flame by Mike Reeves.
Since returning from France I've generally been chilling out, but today I was doing some admin at church; going through and reorganising a filing cabinet (thrilling, I know). Whilst doing this I came across the book of minutes from the church members' meetings, dating from 1914 to around 1925.
Both the minutes book (which I might try to get permission to post some extracts from) and Mike Reeves' introduction to the Reformation (which I'll probably post something on at some point) served to open my eyes a bit and give me a fresh sense that Christianity is something that people have believed for centuries, and the beliefs that I hold dear have been fought for, loved and held on to unswervingley long before I turned up.
Christianity did not feature in my childhood. I heard and said the Lord's prayer at primary school, and had occasional teaching about a (what seemed) fictional character named Jesus, but it was all very mechanical and presented as mythological. But when God opened my eyes that this person whom I knew little about is real and living it was new and fresh and exciting.
Conversion is wonderful for different people in different ways, but I wonder if one of the few privileges of being from an unchurched, non-Christian family is that when you finally taste the truth, it is all the more sweet. But one thing that perhaps you do miss out on (though can't personally verify!) which I suspect those brought up in families that love the Lord experience is the feeling that Christianity is something... old? You look at your parents, you speak to your grandparents, you look at the bookshelf and you feel that the faith of which they speak is something that has been dearly loved for generations.
And so (to finally get back to where I started), it has been great to read The Unquenchable Flame, and to read the minutes of the church meetings, and to see people from the past who have been passionate about the things I am passionate about, and who have fought for and gripped tight to those things that I wish to cling to in my life. I'm grateful I'm not the first - I knew it, but I love to remember it.