I have always believed in God, I guess, I had questioned things but the deep rooted belief that we were all created by something/ someone always existed. I was taught to pray as a kid and although my parents weren’t Christians, we went to church and Sunday school. Eventually, I outgrew Sunday school and started going to church less and less. I had learned plenty about God but knew very little of him and how much it all mattered to me.
I started going out drinking with my mates in third year and soon girls and drink dominated my thoughts, always looking forward to the next weekend. At the first, the only downside was the hangovers and wasted Sundays but pretty soon I would find myself questioning what all the fuss was about. Yeah, I had some of the best times ever out with my mates who were some the funniest guys ever, always up for a laugh, but I started wandering if there was more. So, I had more to contend with than a hangover, I began to get unhappy when alone, when with my friends it was easy to forget these things but that nagging thought was there when I stopped.
I can see that was God working in my life when I look back which is amazing, even now it blows me away that he would care about me or even know I existed among all the billions of people that exist!
Anyway, a guy in my class, who I had been mates with since we were 5 years old, became a Christian and I found myself jealous. He had been going out with a Christian girl and he had stopped drinking etc but we just thought it was to impress her! Turns out it wasn’t! We never got a chance to speak about it around then but it was a challenge. What blew me away was when I heard his testimony and he told that he had depression and was carrying a knife in town with him at the weekends for whatever reason. I had no idea he had been going through so much and it made me take a long look at myself questioning who I was and why I was such a poor friend. I guess I was so wrapped up in trying to be someone I wasn’t to impress other people, I started getting frustrated.
As a result I started praying to become a Christian, I wanted to stop drinking but couldn’t, every weekend we would be out every week I would promise that was it but would be out the next weekend. It was horrible, I would be going home early from night out miserable and empty. I had started going to a youth fellowship and met people there who I could relate to, not religious people, but Christians. People who lived out their faith, not just people who dressed in a certain way and went to church and then filed out quietly without saying anything.
These people took an interest in you and that made them different, I went on trips and learned more and soon found myself going to bible studies which is mad when I think about it because I was going on my own, I must have been so desperate for God but it all seemed so normal at the time.
I eventually went to University and resolved that I had missed my chance because Lewis is such a spiritual place that if it didn’t happen there then it never would. God had other ideas and I met a guy who lectured at my university who truly showed me God’s love taking me to football, having me for tea with his family, doing bible study…
When I look back on that, like I say I can see how God was working, it took me over 6 years to make that step of faith with God. Although I had prayed the prayer of forgiveness every week for years, I couldn’t see past my own sin and was held down by how I would never reach God’s standard. I now realise that I never will and whilst I will never get my head around grace, thank God it is sufficient!
The Christian life is not easy, you don’t become less sinful, or all knowing; I still feel rage over the times when people wronged me in the past and want retribution some times but God gives strength to deal with these things so they don’t consume you. We have a great call on our lives and God has a plan for every one of us, we don’t understand what’s happening most of the times but thankfully, God is in control.
I love the practical advice given in James 1 where it says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” I keep asking God for the salvation of my family and my friends, we need to do so, and be faithful for their sake and ours.