A simple Bible verse became a linchpin for Cameron Blair as he sought to find God’s presence in his life.
I came from a good family. My father was a banker and my mother worked in a clothing store. I enjoyed school and took up tennis. We visited my grandfather out bush every second weekend and spent Christmases on the Gold Coast.
But it would all soon change.
When I was 14, my grandfather passed away. This rocked me to the core. He was nurturing, kind and wise. He was a war hero and he was my hero. That same year my parents divorced and the family split. I went with my father and my sister stayed with my mother.
I started to act up badly, skipping school with my mates, stealing from the local shopping centre, smoking dope and beating people up. I experimented with drugs, especially heroin, which led to more stealing and then armed robbery.
Within three months I had amassed 160 charges against me and was imprisoned for two and a half years.
This led to a life in and out of prison, with the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I had business success but a broken marriage. I met another lady and started a family but then crashed back into drugs. It was a Jekyll and Hyde existence. For a time, I worked selling cars by day and stealing them by night
I found myself in prison again. The shame I felt this time made me almost suicidal. One day, a lady chaplain came into the prison and asked me how my family was. I broke down. How ashamed I felt for leaving them to fend for themselves!
When she asked whether I believed in God, I told her I was pretty sceptical. She offered to get me a Bible and suggested I consider asking God to make himself known to me.
That night, with a little trepidation, I did just that.
My fiancée and I had a ritual where if we were apart for some reason we would say, “At such-and-such a time, look at your palm and I will do the same” and we would feel close to each other.
The next day I received the Bible from the chaplain along with a list of things to pray for. But something leaped out at me. It had a picture of the palm of a hand with a Bible verse written on it: “See, I have not forgotten you, I have carved you onto the palm of my hand” (Isaiah chapter 49, verse16).
I was stunned. I phoned my fiancée and told her of the amazing coincidence of our special ritual with the palms of our hands and that Bible verse. Was this God making himself known to me?
We agreed I should spend more time reading the Bible.
I started to believe in God and became a follower of Jesus. As I read the Bible over the following months and learned to pray, I started to feel a peace inside I had never felt before.
However, I was not immune to setbacks. Once, when I was feeling pretty low spiritually and wondered whether I’d ever again get a sign from God, a visiting pastor stood up and made a speech starting with Isaiah chapter 49, verse16: “See, I have not forgotten you, I have carved you onto the palm of my hand.”
You could have knocked me down with a feather.
Since that time, I’ve continued to seek to grow as a follower of Jesus. I regularly attend church. I have wonderful support from an Anglican chaplain. I’ve completed the Positive Lifestyle program with The Salvation Army, now with a much clearer understanding of the ‘salvation’ part.
I can honestly say that, through God’s grace and intervention, I have changed my life.