Volume 9 Number 5
Just a Lucky Fool
01 October 1996

This article was first printed in a shorter form, in `The Times', London, who had asked Graham Turner to defend the orthodox Christian position.

My beliefs are very simple and unsophisticated. I believe that God has a plan for every human being, and that the way to discover it is by putting our lives into His hands. I hold to that belief not for any high-flown `spiritual' reason, but simply because I have found, by experience, that it works.

I came upon these, to me, preposterous notions as it seemed by chance, when I was doing National Service in the airforce in Singapore and believed in no god but Success. Their agent was a cheerful, disturbing eccentric whose life had been changed by his contact with Moral Re-Armament (he is now a Church of Scotland minister). He had already disturbed a number of other officers in the Mess with his curious ideas, and duly proceeded to disturb me, first by questioning whether ambition was really a good thing and then by informing me that I was quite the most self- centered person he had ever met. I responded by throwing a bar of soap at him.

One memorable evening, he invited me, as he put it, to `listen to God'. Since I did not believe in the Deity, I wanted nothing more than to get out of the room as quickly as possible. Mistaking my horrified silence for consent, he presented me with a piece of paper, suggested that I measure my life against the absolute moral standards of Jesus - honesty, purity, unselfishness and love - and write down anything that occurred to me.


To my utter astonishment, a flood of totally novel and unexpected thoughts poured into my mind - all of them, unfortunately, extremely pertinent and all of them requiring action. From somewhere, I knew not where, I was told that I was a dictator on the cricket field (I was the local RAF captain) and should apologize to my team, that I'd become a snob when I went up to Oxford and should put it right with my parents, and so on for three-quarters of an hour and a painful page and a half.

Oddly, having begun in total doubt and embarrassment, it never occurred to me not to obey what I had been told. I just felt a great lightness of heart and the sense of a gate into a new world swinging open before me. One concrete result of the apology to the team was that the three raw-boned Australians in it began calling me `Sir', a title they had not accorded to any RAF officer before.

And that, apart from one prolonged hiccup during the 1960s, is the basis on which I have tried to live for the past 40 years. God told me very clearly - it is the only time I have ever heard anything like a voice - that he wanted me to become a journalist. So I took a job as a trainee sub-editor in Edinburgh on a distinctly Scottish salary at a time when, during the palmy 1950s, much plusher posts were on offer. And I married a girl I'd known and respected all my life but with whom I had never been in love, after asking God on my knees to let me fall in love with her if she was the right one. The next time I met her it happened. That was 34 years ago and I have never had a second thought.

All I can say is that blessings of every kind have been heaped upon me. If that sounds self-satisfied, it is the reverse. I marvel at God's kindness to me and his detailed provision for me. I am only too well aware of how often I fail and how pathetic are my efforts to repay him.

It is so simple, so practical, so concrete. The Holy Spirit is the guide, restitution the road, freedom the glorious gift. The price is daily obedience to the Inner Voice. This sometimes does require a modest amount of courage. After I had had a mild flirtation with another woman in the 1960s, that Voice told me to apologise to my wife. I did so with tears. Then came the thought: `And now tell your mother-in-law'! The Holy Spirit has a mordant sense of humour.

These days, `moral' seems to have become a stark and even unacceptable word, while `spiritual' is [sorry, some text is missing! -- RIWS] noticed and might never have done so but, after some grinding of teeth, I decided to confess and cough up. That left me $7,000 the poorer.


I am constantly reminded that I am nothing more than a sinner `in recovery', to use AA's formulation. For me, the hymn puts it perfectly: `Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy Cross I cling, Helpless look to Thee for grace, Foul I to the Fountain fly, Wash me Saviour or I die'.

We are all such fools. I have simply been a lucky fool in that a courageous friend showed me the way to freedom. That is why I believe, with all my heart, that there is a divine plan for every human life. The Carpenter from Nazareth is always waiting. The Holy Spirit is never silent. And God is always merciful.
by Graham Turner

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