I suppose I should start with how I was brought up. I moved up to Lewis when I was four years old, from Glenrothes, and I don’t really remember much before the move. We always went to church, Sunday school and things like that, and I really enjoyed it all. Both of my parents were Christians from a relatively young age and a lot of the people who came to our house were Christians. There were also a lot of fellowships in our house, although I was not involved with those!
From Primary 6 onwards I went to Free Church Camps and really enjoyed them. Not only did I enjoy the company and the activities but I really enjoyed the Gospel which was preached to us. Even from an early age I can remember thinking I wanted to be a Christian, really admiring and looking up to those who were professing Christians. I just didn’t know how to become one, didn’t know what I had to do.
When I was in 4th year, I went to a camp in Tebay. It was an activity camp and I really enjoyed my summer. The week ended as it had started, with us being challenged by the leaders, challenged to give our lives to Christ. A number of us, very emotional at the time, decided to give our lives to Someone who had given His life for us, Jesus. That night was very special to a number of folk, both campers and leaders.
After returning home from camp, life was not how I expected it to be. I was back in the real world, with a bump! No more was I surrounded by my Christian friends, no more was a spoon-fed the Gospel message like I was at camp. I was back amongst the trials and temptations of the world. I started to go out at the weekends, although I was not drinking alcohol. I had decided that I would not drink before I was 18 and to this day I thank God that He kept me from that particular temptation at that early age. But I thought I was better than others because I was not drinking, and this same occurrence went on for the whole of 5th and 6th year.
From an early age I was convinced that I wanted to be a Primary Teacher and the Lord certainly opened all the right doors for it to become my profession. I went away in September 1999 to Northern College, Aberdeen, where I was to study for 4 years and work for a further 2. Overall I enjoyed my time in Aberdeen, it is a place close to my heart and still miss it and some of the friends I left there. But my time in Aberdeen was laden with examples of trying to fill the Christ-shaped gap in my life with other, worldly things, like friendships, relationships, drink and even work. I began to attend church less and less, making excuses to my friends and family. Unknown to them was that I was going through a real personal and spiritual struggle. During my latter years in Aberdeen, I thought that the solution to my problems was for me to see a doctor, thinking I maybe had depression. The funny thing was that I knew exactly what was wrong with my life, what I needed to do, who I needed to speak to – and it certainly wasn’t a doctor at Student Health!
About 2 years ago from now, thoughts started appearing in my head, thoughts about coming back to Lewis to work and live. The Lord once again opened up doors, which made it perfectly clear what I was to do. He wanted me to move home. This wasn’t really very hard for me to do, as I felt a fresh start would do me the world of good, but little did I know of the fresh start He had in mind.
One evening in Aberdeen, before I left, I was out with a group of school friends, having a typical Friday night. I started to feel very lonely despite being out with a group of my pals. I made my excuse and left, walking along Union Street back to my flat. I felt awful. I felt like I was wasting my time on the earth. I felt that no-one would miss me if I wasn’t about, that I was just a burden for all the people who knew me. As I walked home I crossed a bridge and looked over the edge, tears on my face. At that time I seriously thought about doing the unmentionable. I thought about committing suicide. To see that written down, even now, is very scary. But amazingly, I felt ‘something’ push against me, keeping me from harming myself. I certainly know now that it was the Lord, keeping me, looking after me, even without me asking Him to. I turned round, went home and looked up my Bible, a thing I still did, especially after nights out. I looked up Psalm 139, all about God knowing everything about us, knowing where we are, what we are going through, what we are about to say, etc. This Psalm used to scare me, the thought of someone knowing all my thoughts, where I have been and what I have been doing. But now it comforts me, and is now my favourite Psalm!
Although sad at leaving Aberdeen, my school and my friends, the Lord has really helped me settle back at home in Lewis. I am living with my grandparents in Leurbost, planning, God willing, to build a house in Crossbost. I have been given a beautiful and amazing girlfriend, Charissa. The Lord has also blessed me with so many wonderful and encouraging Christian friends. I am also blessed to be involved in so many opportunities for witnessing, especially with the young on the island, who I believe are calling out for the Lord.
In closing, I will try to encourage you to continue to seek the Lord. I believe that if you have read this and are not already a Christian, then you have read to the end because you realise you are missing something, something that I urge you to ask God for. Try to control your own life and you will only make a mess of it, ask me – I tried to do it for so long. Give your life to Jesus and you will be handing it over to the safest hands imaginable. There are so many other things I would love to say, so feel free to ask me anything if you ever see me about. Don’t think that it is an easy road to be on, it certainly is not. But when the hard times come, there is no-one better to have as a best friend. Think about it – having Jesus as YOUR best friend! Amazing.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see.
Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace my fears relieved
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come
Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace shall lead me home.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.”