Discovering a sense of peace
I’m Barry Byles and I’ve been a Christian now for 43 years. My ‘journey’ started as a boy when I was brought up in a fine, loving home, although my parents never went to church. Along with many other children at that time, I attended regular Sunday School at the local church and eventually was confirmed. However, in the years that followed, I drifted further and further from Christianity believing that it was not possible to be a Christian and follow a scientific career path ( I know differently now!!). This path led me to a degree course in science at Sussex University, which took me even further away from my childhood faith. A few years after University I suffered a period of depression, thinking, ‘what is the purpose of life?’ Was it just a ‘poor player strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage and then being heard no more’ ( apologies to William Shakespeare !) This ongoing feeling of the futility of life came to a head one night when, in desperation, I asked God (if He existed!!) to help me. I immediately felt a tremendous sense of peace within and I knew something outside myself had intervened in my life. Was this God?? Very excited, I went out the next day and bought a copy of the New Testament. I read it avidly and discovered from St John’s Gospel Ch 14, that the Holy Spirit promises to come and live within us if we only ask Him. This, I concluded was obviously what had happened to me and I was experiencing the peace that the Spirit brings.
This I believe was the real start of my Christian journey and led me a few years later into a big career change – from a Research and Development Officer with Express Dairies to joining the Police Force, as I felt a strong urge to work more in the community. I joined the South Yorkshire Police in 1974 and initially worked for approximately 10 years in the South Sheffield area, being based at Woodseats Police Station. Following two years at Force H.Q in the City Centre, I was moved out Sheffield North Division and was based at Hillsborough. All in all I worked for sixteen years on patrol car duties involving shift work and responded to ‘anything and everything’ that came up. Never a dull moment!! Throughout this time my faith was challenged, however, over the years my trust in God deepened more and more. I spent the last nine years of my service as a Community Constable at Stannington, Sheffield. This allowed me to build deep relationships within the local community, which I enjoyed immensely. There were many challenges, spiritual, mental and physical over the thirty years of my service but I can say that God was faithful and met all my needs.
I’m now ten years on from my retirement and am enjoying a deeper involvement with my local church and other Christian commitments. I’ve also taken up some old hobbies such as watercolour painting (the picture is a self portrait I did a few years ago) model boat building and folk singing with my wife Hilary. Retirement has also meant more time with my two children and three grandchildren, which has been a great blessing.
Although my faith journey is still ongoing – and who knows what new developments may occur, I can say that I have absolutely no regrets about committing my life to Jesus Christ because my whole experience has been that He is,
“The Way, The Truth and The Life” ( John 14.6)