Elijah is one of my favourite people in the Old Testament. I keep an icon of him in one of my rooms and have long been inspired by his story.
I was a punk who also enjoyed extreme metal. Since I converted in 1998 the inclination to listen to such things fell away of its own accord. As my prayer life deepened and my faith grew I just didn’t like anything that did not relate to God. I don’t listen to anything like that anymore, but not to be seen as holy, but God removed the taste for unholy things. I no longer watch TV or mainstream films or listen to secular music. I admit, I’m a bit odd! I do love classical music though.
However, going back a bit – I suffered from severe depression for many many years of my youth and, up until I was 35, I was often driven to the point of suicide, yet the Lord held me back.
Darkness surrounded me and the constant despair almost killed me. The years of abuse I had suffered at the hands of my dad (physical and mental) and others in my life (I was sexually assaulted when I was 11 during a family holiday in Morocco), the self-abuse I’d indulged in myself (drug abuse) weighed heavily over me, to the point where I thought I was cursed and hated by God (Lord forgive me).
About 15 years ago, I attended a Mass of Reconciliation while in the depths of anguish and suffering. As I approached the priest to confess my sins – which are many – my entire being shook, I was physically shaken to the core. I wept (I am not one who easily sheds tears for myself) uncontrollably.
At that moment, as I stood before the priest, what I can only describe as a cleansing came upon me. It was if all the pain of my whole life was removed.
I struggle to communicate what this meant to me. Often words are simply not enough.
I felt the Lord’s presence and an indescribable peace settle upon me.
Since that day I have never suffered from the darkness that once encompassed my life. I give thanks every day of my life for His loving presence. I am also grateful for those years where God allowed me such pain. It has made me the man I am today, utterly flawed, but grateful for His great Mercy and endless Love for such an appalling sinner.
This is why Elijah means so much to me personally.