Heather Sunderland and USA

Heather and her husband John

I consider myself very fortunate to have been raised in a loving Christian home. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know the Bible stories or who Jesus was. Accepting the truth of the Bible was never something I struggled with and I have always had a very deep sense of God’s love for me. 

I do remember, however, shortly after starting comprehensive school at age 11, being faced with a significant choice. When my peers found out that I attended church regularly & considered myself a Christian, I was ostracised. I knew that I had to either choose to stand by what I had professed I believed or turn my back on it in order to fit in and make friends. While I was aware this was a significant decision, it was not a hard one and I was certainly not aware of the long-term consequences.

So I completed my schooling with no friends at school and only talking with teachers and my family on a daily basis. But my young Christian life thrived and I loved being at church with God’s people and getting to know Him more. Considering the solid start my faith had, it did certainly not enjoy a smooth road as I grew into adulthood. 

I left home in 1994 to go to Bangor University. I loved studying and very much enjoyed student life, although I perhaps enjoyed my new found freedom a little too much. Away from parental supervision for the first time in my life, and also away from the guidance of a church family who knew me, I began to enjoy some of the pleasures the world had to offer. Within a couple of years, I had stopped attending church. I never stopped believing that the Bible was true, that God loved me or that Jesus died and rose again to take the punishment for my sin. However, I did know that the lifestyle I was living was displeasing to God and as such I had to simple block Him out of my mind. These were the most lonely times of my life for I could not pray to my heavenly Father – I could not talk to Him without confessing my sinful lifestyle and I was simply not prepared to give it up yet. It was a vicious circle – I enjoyed the things I was doing and didn’t want to give them up, but I was miserable and empty without a relationship with God. I was miserably happy in my sin.

This lifestyle of deliberately choosing to sin, thankfully ran it’s course by the summer of 1998. I had completed my degree and teaching qualification and was getting ready to move to the UAE for my first teaching job. Within weeks of leaving I attended a friend’s wedding and I was overwhelmed by the love and joy I could see in the couple getting married, yet it was obvious that it was much more than simply human love for one another. I knew instantly that it was the overflowing of God’s love within each of them and recognised my foolishness at having turned my back on that very same love just to seek a poor imitation. I confessed my selfishness and my sin and God was faithful to forgive me and welcome me home. 

Since that time, I have never deliberately chosen to pursue sin. This does not make me perfect and it certainly does not mean that my life has been smooth sailing. I have many struggles and questions but I know that my God is faithful and He will never leave me or forsake me – despite my fickle tendency to wander away from Him, even unknowingly at times. My greatest joy is knowing that I am forgiven, that I am loved by God Almighty, the creator of the universe, and that one day He will welcome me home to be with Him for all eternity. 

 

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come Thou Fount of every blessing

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace

Streams of mercy never ceasing

Call for songs of loudest praise

Teach me some melodious sonnet

Sung by flaming tongues above

Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it

Mount of Thy redeeming love

 

Here I raise my Ebenezer

Here by Thy great help I’ve come

And I hope by Thy good pleasure

Safely to arrive at home

Jesus sought me when a stranger

Wandering from the fold of God

He to rescue me from danger

Interposed His precious blood

 

O that day when freed from sinning

I shall see Thy lovely face

Clothed then in blood washed linen

How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace

Come, my Lord, no longer tarry

Take my ransomed soul away

Send Thine angels now to carry 

Me to realms of endless day

 

O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter

Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it

Prone to leave the God I love

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it

Seal it for Thy courts above

  

Robert Robinson 1758

Tune  http://youtu.be/ax_NMWLEb6U