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This is the transcript of Liz's testimony at church on Palm Sunday 2006:

I was a real goodie-goodie; I wanted to get everything right. At home and at school I wanted to please everybody. My parents, my teachers, and God as well. But of course, I couldn’t. And even when I thought I had got it right, I didn’t know for sure. I was confirmed in the Church of England when I was 13 and it was very important to me; I meant every word – I really meant all of it. But I still wasn’t sure that it was good enough. And then I became a typical teenager, so, my definition of ‘nice’ probably wasn’t the same as everybody else’s. But I still tried to be nice and to please everyone as much as I could. Then we moved to a new part of the country, because of my father’s job. I went to a new school and I was very unhappy – I didn’t want to move. There was a girl who lived in the next village to me who was in my class and she was detailed to meet me on the bus, to help me settle in. And she was really odd. She didn’t go to the cinema, and she didn’t go to dances, she never wore make up, and she went to a church that met in a house. And I thought she was very peculiar. I wasn’t very nice to her, because I was very unhappy, but she was unfailingly patient with me. And I was impressed in spite of myself. She belonged to a Bible study group that met after school and was run by one of the Maths teachers, which is also rather odd. But I started to go along as well. It was the first times that I had read the Bible except occasionally listening to it in church. I went for quite a long time and I began to understand a bit more about what the Bible has to say.

And then I went to a meeting like this, where different people in the group talked about what Jesus meant to them. There were girls of my own age talking about Jesus as if He was a really close friend and I thought that’s what I’ve wanted all along and I haven’t got it. One of them explained that forgiveness and this friendship with God was a gift. That you couldn’t earn it by being good, because you could never be good enough. That Jesus had earned it by dying on the cross. All you had to do was accept it.

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And to start with I was quite angry I wanted to know why nobody had ever told me before. And then I was upset because I had been trying so hard to get it right and apparently I had got it completely wrong. That was the point I had got to at the end of that evening. I thought I was a Christian, I was trying so hard to please God I’d been confirmed, and I tried to do things right and apparently that wasn’t enough. I'd been so hooked up with what I was trying to do for God I’d never really thought about what He had done for me. The next day at school we had a War on Want lunch – I don’t know whether you remember War on Want? – we used to pay our lunch money to War on Want and have bread and cheese instead. So there I was sitting on the floor in the gym at school, eating my bread and cheese and the teacher who ran the Bible study group, the Maths teacher, asked me what I had thought about the night before. And so I told her how I’d felt angry and upset and she explained to me God had been working in my life but I needed to come to the point where I was going to accept what He had done for me and so that was the point at which I became a Christian although I had been trying for a long time before and God had been working but at that point I realised that I couldn’t earn God’s approval. And the relief was huge, it was just amazing to think that God loved me and accepted me and I didn’t have to keep working to try and make sure He liked me.

That was nearly forty years ago and it still amazes me that God loves me and accepts me and I don’t have to earn His approval. And in the times in between I have known that friendship that I wanted where God has been close to me. We have had some really hard times; they haven’t all been easy. Some of you were here when Tim had his accident and how ill he was. Even this week, I don’t know if everybody knows but our daughter-in-law’s father died on Monday and the funeral was yesterday and they are in Germany, but knowing that even though I was here in England I could still pray for them. It made all the difference. I still try to be good, I still try to be nice to people and to please people, but I don’t have to, it’s because I want to. It’s because God loves me so much that I want to please Him. It’s not that I have to, to earn His approval, it’s because He loves me.

Liz Platt

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