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Around The Sun: A Sign From God

...I was alone. I spoke aloud. "If you are real, show me a sign. Show me you exist.''

No sooner were the words out of my mouth than there was a huge flash of lightning, the biggest I had ever seen...

Steve Harrison tells of a night to remember.

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Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah the Prophet.

For several years I had been wrestling with the concept of God. Did he exist? I was deeply troubled.

As kids we were not brought up to be religious. Visits to church at Christmas and Easter took care of those needs. We were taught Bible stories in school, and prayed every morning in assembly.

I was 23, living half the week at my girlfriend Jacquie's home in Amblerthorn and the other half in my one home in Great Horton, Bradford. Jacquie's house was on a hill, four miles away from my home, and a steep hill it was!

I remember a particular evening when I set out to see Jacquie. I was troubled by my thoughts. Did I really love her? And what of God? Did he exist? If so, why was there so much hurt and pain in the world?

The sky was black. Rain was falling - the sort of rain which soaks you to the skin. We used to say in Bradford that on a clear day you can see the other side of the road. This was not a clear day. As I waited at the bus stop the only thing I could see was rain.

I was alone. I spoke aloud. "If you are real, show me a sign. Show me you exist.''

No sooner were the words out of my mouth than there was a huge flash of lightning, the biggest I had ever seen. An electric blue flash, a hundred yards away. The lightning hit the spire of a church. The building lit up like a Christmas tree. The church seemed to be alive, powerful...

I had asked for a sign, and here it was. What a sign!

I started to run. I ran as fast as I could, trying to get away from this God who called down fire from heaven. I ran non-stop to Jacquie's house. So maybe God did exist but, like Jonah, I could run away from him.

The next two or three hours were heaven. Jacquie put me into a great frame of mind. Fed and sensually satisfied I decided to go home, to catch the last bus of the day to Great Horton.

The night was now clear. The moon was out. All was bright. My footsteps clicked briskly along. I was on top of the world, emotionally, physically, and up there in Amblerthorn, literally. I didn't need God. I announced this to the night.

I passed a pub. Four young men came out of it. I thought I heard them muttering, threating to come and get me. I quickened my pace. So did they. I broke into a trot. They did likewise. I began to run at full speed. They were definitely chasing me.

In panic I appealed to God to rescue me.

I ran as fast as I could. I passed several bus stops. The sounds of pursuit were fading. I was losing them. So who needed God?

Eventually I sat on a low stone wall to recover my breath. The wall was perhaps three feet high on the road side, but on the other side there was a ten feet drop. Stone walls are a symbol of security. They stand come hail or shine.

I felt as though I was the same as the wall. Capable of standing, of outrunning trouble...

Then the wall collapsed.

I landed on my back in a meadow, unhurt, with stones scattered around me.

Yes, I was given plenty of signs that night. But another 10 years elapsed before I was finally convinced of the existence of God.

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