MyWalk is a monthly feature on the BCEC blog, exploring how people conduct their walks with God. This month Ben Frearson is sharing; he has been attending BCEC for four and a half years, first during his university days and now as an full-fledged electronics engineer.
Ben, can you give us a bit of background to your Christian walk?
I grew up attending a COE (Church of England) with my parents. It wasn’t a very high church, fairly moderate.
What do you mean by high?
There weren’t loads of tradition, robes, and that sort. It was quite a nice church family, very focused on Bible teaching and evangelical.
Was there a specific point when you began calling yourself a Christian, or was it more gradual?
I think it was gradual. I remember when I was about eight at Spring Harvest, a nation-wide Christian conference– that was probably the first time I thought of myself a Christian. I have a memory of that anyway. And then confirmation. In COE children often get baptised when they’re babies. Then when they’re old enough to decide for themselves they get confirmed, which is like adult baptism without water. I was confirmed at fourteen.
Since then how have you seen yourself grown?
I think one of the best things was coming to a new family of believers. Especially BCEC being a completely different style, with emphasis on other areas. There’s a different focus on things; for instance I grew up with a lot of Bible knowledge but not as much thinking on faith and grace. And because it was quite English there was quite a lot of stiff upper lip, where you don’t talk about emotions.
What does your spiritual routine look like day to day? How do you spend time with God?
[My wife] Mandy leaves the house half an hour before me so I like to spend that time reading the Bible if I can. Because actually it’s quite difficult. When we first got married we tried doing it together but in the morning it didn’t work for us; we’re both grumpy and need to slowly wake up, but there isn’t that time. So now Mandy gets up before me and does her own time [with God] and then I get up when she leaves. I spend that brief period reading the Bible and praying. What’s good is if there are a couple of new [worship] albums just out, then I’ll put those on and wake up to that.
Do you have any particular plan for reading through the Bible?
I used to do that quite faithfully in the past. It started from trying to read the Bible through in a year but that doesn’t usually work … at some point you find yourself stuck in the middle right? But recently my reading hasn’t been as focused because it hasn’t been as frequent. I’m trying to stay on the gospels now because I tend, at least in the past, to think, “Oh yeah, I’ve read those before so I’ll go for something like, ooo, Micah!”
Something a bit more obscure. And are there any tools you like to use for praying?
I’ve been trying to journal actually. Sometimes I feel a little bit silly writing it, and think, oh no delete that word! or cross it out. But I think it’s quite good. It’s different but it’s been helpful because you have time to think about what you’re saying and the things you’re praying about, instead of just blurting it out and then it’s gone.
So you actually write out your prayers?
Yes, I’ve been trying it on and off in different forms for a while. I’ve tried it at a few various points, and going back and looking at the really old ones I can see how prayers have been answered or how I’ve been feeling that time as opposed to now.
Do you have a preferred method for it? Paper or electronic?
I used to write it on paper. And now I”m been trying electronically because it syncs between everything. I mean, I guess I don’t really need it to sync but it works smoothly. It does have dangers though since there are more distractions on a device. The app I use is DayOne. It’s made for journalling and I find it quite useful. Very clean, just a blank page. And you can add tags for easy searching.
What would you say is the most helpful thing you’ve done for your spiritual life?
Last Easter when I had just started working, I felt that I needed to spend some time outside and apart from my busy life. So at lunchtimes I started going to the park. I’d read a book with the Psalms in it from The Message, or listen to music, or just sit. It was really nice to just be and focus. It’s especially hard in the city to do that, to find a quiet place.
Is that something you still do now?
Well I still go to the park, but now I tend to sit in my car since it’s been winter. In the car it’s much easier to find distractions so I don’t spend time with God every day like that. But I have been trying to keep that up. In the past month it’s been more sporadic but before that I used the time to read Christian books and managed to get through quite a few.
What have you been reading lately?
The most recent have been If You Don’t Step Out of the Boat You Won’t Walk on Water by Philip Yancy and C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. There are so many books that people call Christian classics, and I realise that I’ve actually never read them. So I’m trying to go back and read some. Even if you get a book you don’t necessarily agree with, it’s helpful to have different ideas stimulating you to look at things.
Making you think through those issues.
Exactly. Like with Love Wins by Rob Bell [which I read last year]. If you don’t agree with it, you then have to think, well what DO I believe about it?