God is an adventurer

I remember when I was 14. I was growing up in Barbados and at school we had to make a decision. Which second language should we learn? French, Spanish or German? Two girls took German...and I could not understand for the life of me why. German??!

Life is full of surprises. Who knows what's ahead. Back then if you would have told me that I would be married to a German man, living and working mainly in Germany and even speaking German, I would have thought: You are crazy! Today I have learned enough to know that God's intentions for us go way beyond our expectations. God is an adventurer.

My parents are from Barbados. They lived in England in the 50s and 60s. That's where my brother and I were born. In the early 70s our family left the cold and smoggy air of London for the warm, fresh breeze of the Caribbean. That's where I began to be aware of myself. Our modest home. Hardworking and loving mother. Feeling special. Being different. Riding to school. Going to church. And God. Something about God.

I did feel there was a God...out there...somewhere. Especially on Sundays. My mother would iron my dress the night before and it would be waiting for me on Sunday morning, along with the clean shoes, tiny handbag, stiffly ironed handkerchief and my very own hymnbook and liturgy. With hair neatly combed and of course always on time we'd set off to church.


My earliest memories of church are vague. I somehow remember the feeling of sitting on a huge pew next to my mother and brother, my feet not touching the floor. I remember the incense and the procession. My mother's familiar hand quickly pressing a cold coin into my hand as the collection came around. Sunday school and Evening Song. The ceremony of Christmas and Easter. The beauty of the Canticles. Te Deum Laudamus! The reverence of the prayers. I remember feeling somehow, something is very right about this.


Maybe it was something of the mystery that drew me to want to be involved. I joined the church choir when I was 8. This opened up the church for me in a whole new way. I could get closer to the altar. I could see the back rooms when we'd rehearse. I would see the vestments and robes of the priests and altarboys and girls. Where the candles, chalices and communion wine were stored. We would sing hymns and learn anthems. The sexton would even let me ring the church bell. For me it was an honour to be able to play a part in the service.

When I was confirmed the next year, I did feel that something important was happening. My strongest memories are that it was an extra special Sunday. I had a special white dress along with twentysomething others, and most of all, finally I could satisfy my curiosity and taste the funny looking wafer they called bread, and drink the wine!

Even though the realisation was not concrete, I can definitely look back and see how God's hand was on me then. I see how he gently held me and guided me all the years until I was 16 or 17. It was then that I started to think seriously about church and what it was all about. After years of church going, hymn singing, youth meetings and endless other church activities, the crux finally came. If there was any truth and meaning in what I was celebrating every Sunday, and if Jesus really did give Himself for me, then I felt I wanted to live with this God. There was so much I did not understand. But I was hungry. I wanted to know more.

So without much drama I knelt on my bedroom floor and asked God to be apart of my life. No lightning, no thunder. Still the effects have been long lasting and undeniable. I started to read the Bible. I began to really pray. Everything became so much more meaningful to me. I felt like I was connecting with life. It's like my soul had been asleep but had now become alive. I literally fell in love with God. It was then that I started to write songs and sing. My first songs were mostly love songs to Jesus. I sang and wrote and sang and wrote. I can't explain it in any other way but that I just had to write and sing.

To this very day I cannot deny the one in me driving me to write and sing. My decision to serve God at 16 or 17 sparked a whole number of life consequences. It scares me to think I could have missed so much if I did not have the freedom to risk and dream, knowing that I was in the hands of the great God. I remember being at a camp in Florida for a few summers. Here I really grew in faith, not to mention my confidence. For the first time I sang my own songs to a crowd of people. They wildly (and graciously) applauded my fledgling efforts. That was encouragement I needed to keep going! At 19 I left the safe haven of the University in Barbados for an unknown and uncertain future in England.

It turned out to be the right move. Over the next 8 years I completed my studies in Psychology and alongside continued the music. Actually, again I felt driven to write songs. And in this period, church support, certain connections and the generosity of a friend gave me the chance to do my first recording. Subsequently I accepted an invitation to sing in Germany - just me and my guitar. At first I thought, that was a nice little adventure. But the adventure continued. The invitations for concerts and recordings increased and the next years took us repeatedly to every Bundesland (except the Saarland) and countries like Austria, Switzerland, USA, Poland, Slovakia, Finland, Rumania, South Africa as well as back to England, Wales and the Caribbean. And in this time I found my man. Somewhere in all the travelling and singing he just somehow stepped into my life. And after we got married, I went back to school and learned German.

Who knows what will happen? I would never have thought I'd be in the situation I am now. Things could have been so different. I have no doubt that it is because of placing my life in God's hands that summer years ago. Looking back, I am forever grateful. Definitely! And looking forward to the things to come I am full of hope, excitement and anticipation. Because I know: God is an adventurer.

Judy Bailey

Mon, 23-04-2018

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