I was a late reader, but once I mastered it you couldn't wrest a book from my hand! I started reading two - or even three - books a day, and it wasn't long before I was ploughing through every book in the house.
One day I came across a very small, hand crafted volume that had my Dad's name on it. It was a small collection of poems that Dad had written across his life, starting from his teenage years.
Every kid tries to imitate their parents, and I was certainly no different. I immediately started writing my own poems - though I must admit sometimes my lines looked almost identical to his! At first I wrote about birds, spring and nature, but as I hit my teenage years I started to write about heavier things.
Recently I came across some verses I wrote as a young teenager, and I thought I would share them with you:
I found my life
At the foot of a cross
Where people once knelt
And mourned their loss
I found my life
In the place of death
Where God's own son
Gave his last breath
I found my life
In a love divine
And nail-scarred hands
Now hold mine
The crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me
Of all the things I've written, I think these three verses are still the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me. I wrote them as a young teen struggling to find my identity. I had just done a complete overhaul of my image, going from a mischievous boy with patched up clothes to a kid that was waaayyyy too cool for school.
I was suddenly into designer clothes and hair gel and other such superficial things that I thought made me hip. It was only much later that I realized being cool isn't so much about the accessories but rather your attitude!
But in the middle of this teenage muddle of trying to perfect an image of cool, God came through and placed a sunbeam on the boy behind the mask. He showed me who I really was, tearing away the lies, the deceit, the smokescreens that I placed around me.
I was wicked. For all my Christian upbringing and regular church attendance, my heart was still black and spoiled by sin.
To my non-Christian friends I was a goody-two shoes, but refusing to smoke cigarettes or spout cuss words doesn't cleanse the heart. I was an angry person, a lustful person, a selfish person. I was a sinner.
And God saw this - He saw through the image I carefully constructed, straight through to the raw, real me. And He loved me. He took me to a place where people knelt and wept with bitter distress. A place where shame was as tangible as the rivers of blood flowing down the wooden crosses of condemned criminals. And in this place of death, He showed me love in its purest form.
Lamb to the slaughter
Jesus Christ, the perfect son of God, came to this place willingly, like a lamb to the slaughter. He was scorned, mocked and jeered at but made no reply. His back was scourged. Nails were driven into His hands, His feet. A crown of thorns was thrust upon His head. He was hoisted up, naked and bleeding, and still He didn't resist. The angels that did His bidding heard no command.
Jesus Christ hung on that cross and took upon Himself the sins of all mankind. The blackest and foulest deeds of the night were placed upon His shoulders. My sins, my blackness, my shame, all placed upon Him. And Jesus took it in; He soaked it up, till God himself turned His face away from His one and only son, marred now with the fullest blackness of depraved humanity.
But as He died in that God forsaken place He cried three final words; "It is finished." Jesus Christ had taken the full wrath and judgement of God upon Himself. The penalty of death was paid. The punishment for sin was carried out. And in that moment I found my life.
Thomas Devenish lives in Hobart, Tasmania. He works as a motion designer and enjoys the diverse experiences life has to offer, from wake-boarding to curling up with a good book on a rainy day.
Thomas Devenish's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/thomas-devenish.html