Some people have to reach rock bottom before they start "searching for God", but Maggie Clark tells how she literally fell into the arms of Jesus as a girl before she even knew there was a God to look for.
It happened in 1949, when Maggie was in her teens at a Presbyterian girls boarding school. They had a fire drill that required the girls to slide down a fire pole from the third storey of the dormitories. Maggie was terrified of heights and when the prefect pushed her over the window ledge, she plummeted to the ground landing with a thud.
But from Maggie's perspective it was very different.
"As I went over the ledge I just simply let go and still vividly remember feeling a firmness under my dangling feet, then a warm comforting feeling enfolded me, like being tucked up in soft velvet or a puffy armchair, and I felt safe and protected. So, I just snuggled in and enjoyed the great view of everything around me as I wafted slowly down. I saw the other girls in their tidy rows down on the tennis court.
"Amazingly, I could see everything for miles and miles right into my parents sitting room, 35 miles away, as they sat by the open fire.
"I didn't pass out or faint because I was wide awake the whole time and could see every wonderful thing so clearly. I was then very softly and tenderly set down on the ground."
While everyone was screaming and panic had broken out around her, to Maggie "it seemed like a lovely, long time spent with [Jesus]."
And Maggie was, miraculously, physically fine - no broken bones, no bruises, no shock, no aches or pains, no cuts anywhere at all.
That fall is the moment that Maggie credits with meeting and recognizing her Lord for the first time, but she realizes now that twice before He had intervened, through others, to save her life.
Maggie was born premature, weighing just 2.2 pounds, and was only kept alive through the God-inspired efforts of one Matron Johnson. She bathed Maggie in oil, wrapped her in cotton wool, fed her with an eye-dropper and carried her around everywhere in the crook of her arm, held upright in a pint-sized enamel jug!
Three months later when Maggie was back home but failing to thrive, all her relatives were gathered and crying around her when her Scottish grandad, having had enough of nothing being done, grabbed an eye-dropper and his flask and squirted whiskey down her throat!
"There was utter silence and horror – or so my Dad said," Maggie recounts. "Apparently I gasped and spluttered and coughed up a lump of something. Then I yelled the place down!"Then with a laugh she adds, "So perhaps I can truthfully say that in the beginning I was anointed with oil and filled with the spirit!"
Maggie's experience of the comfort and presence of God confirmed what she already knew about the saving grace (undeserved love of God), God offered her through Jesus' death on the cross, which she had learnt about in Sunday School and from her father. Later she went to a Christian rally and a Billy Graham Crusade, which reinforced her understanding of and commitment to Christ.
But ever since her fall, Maggie says "Jesus has been with me as He promised He would," and that presence has helped her to overcome her natural impatience and flaring temper.
Her favorite verse is Matthew chapter 28 verse 20 where Jesus tells his disciples: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Now at 81, Maggie can look back on a life spent praising God by singing in church, musical show choirs, theatre companies and, latterly, with country gospel club the Good News Band.
She finishes her story with characteristic wry humour, "Try working for God – His retirement plan is out of this world!"•