Art teacher Pauline Overbeeke discovered that all relationship is reciprocal, even relationships with the things around us, and especially relationship with God.
She found it in the hardest possible way.
“I did not relate to God or Jesus. Growing up, I went to Sunday school. I remember taking communion for the first time. It was just the thing to do.
“I asked my mum when we had children, ‘Do you believe in God?’
“‘Yes, I do.’
“But I did not know the next question.
“We were good people with a sense of propriety. I had friends who were Christians. We only went to church Christmas and Easter. They went between.”
Fresh out of college as a teacher in the Barossa Valley, Pauline joined a Bible study group of fine young women. She freaked out when she felt she may have to pray aloud, and could not make any sense of the little passages they read. She soon fled the group.
The next ten years were spent teaching overseas in New Zealand and Canada.
On returning home she thought it was time to settle down. She did. She fell in love, married, and had two children, who she enrolled in a catholic school. She even approached the Orley Avenue Church in Stirling and offered to teach Sunday school (after all, she was a teacher), so that her boys would know something about God.
She found that teaching about God and not really knowing him was hypocritical. So she left after a short time.
Their busy family life was filled with camping trips, sport, work and school holidays.
Pauline went on an art trip to Melbourne, and, while there, received the devastating news of her oldest son’s tragic death.
“The days that followed were surreal. I contacted Brian Zeitz, the minister at Sunset Rock. (I found later that my son and his friends used to sit on the rocks watching the sunset.)
“During a sleepless night I was writing things in the dark that I wanted for my son’s funeral. I wrote down the name of my communion song, O Lamb of God, I come. I had always loved this song.
“Then a strange thing happened. I got this weird feeling there was something in the room, a presence, and an iridescent blue light. If I shut my eyes I couldn’t get rid of it. Then I sensed a voice saying the words, ‘Peace, Joy, Love… this is the Holy Spirit.’
“Suddenly I was washed over with a feeling of joy that I’d never known. I had known happiness. But this was pure joy. As all this was happening I felt levitated. If I was standing I’d have fallen over.
“Next morning I heard a blackbird sing so beautifully, in a way I’d never heard before.
“I wrote a letter to the congregation before the funeral saying we had a sense of peace. When I came home and looked at the trees it was as if I saw them for the first time. Everything was new. I suddenly was aware of a fulness and a knowingness. I thought I was the wisest person in the world. My husband was concerned that I might be having a breakdown, but I knew exactly that I wanted to get to know God.
“After the funeral a friend came to me and said, ‘You know that I’ve just found Jesus. What about doing BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) with me at Sunset Rock?
“I found Jesus. I couldn’t see what was real before. I tuned in and I still tune in to get to know Jesus more. But how is anyone going to believe me if I say that this is the best that ever happened?
“I could see the workings of the Triune God. The Holy Spirit (I need visuals) I could see as a constant little flame, always there, and when God says something to us… woosh! The flame blazes! Jesus is the one who sent the Spirit. He convicts me.
“And I picture God the Father. Jesus takes an obedient stand as the Son. He delivers us the whole message of God through the workings of the Spirit.
“Sometimes it’s hard work. There are many of the old ways that cause stumbling blocks. But what I love about my journey with Jesus is that I’m justified. I’m convicted.
“I want to honour Jesus in action. That’s Godliness. I feel I’m surrounded by Godliness.”