I did not have the best start in life. I had a difficult birth, suffered an allergic reaction to cow’s milk while in special care, and was eventually diagnosed with multiple allergies and intolerances, as well as proneness to infection.
Struggling with poor health, I grew up to face a family crisis at 10 years old. My father ended his marriage with my mother for another woman, moved out of the family home, and then had little time to spare for my brother and me.
There were plenty of good times, despite the difficulties. My mother was a believer in Jesus Christ and I had the benefit of learning from her faith and prayers, and joyful approach to everything. She told me about Jesus, yet I did not know God personally.
Then, at 11 years old, my mother took my brother and me on a church holiday, to a Christian camp in Cornwall. The children had their own services run by the youth ministry team.
One evening, at one of these youth sessions, the Word of God struck me in a way that it had never done before. I was convicted of being a sinner. I realised that God’s only Son had come into the world to die in my place, for my sin, and yet I had done nothing to acknowledge this, not even a ‘thank you’!
At the end of the session I went up to the youth minister and he gave me a booklet to take away and read. I immediately returned to the family caravan, knowing that the rest of the family would not return for a while.
We had no lights in that caravan, so I read the booklet by torchlight. The booklet made clear that I needed to repent of my sin and give my life to Jesus in order to receive the forgiveness offered through his sacrifice on the cross.
The truth brought me to my knees. I repented of my sins and gave my life to Jesus. Immediately I felt I was being filled with God’s love, like a vessel being filled with water. It was too much for me to contain and I felt as if I was overflowing. I had received the Holy Spirit. God’s presence would never leave me.
I realise that not every Christian undergoes such a dramatic conversion. I believe that, in his mercy, the Lord gave me this wonderful experience of himself for two reasons.
Firstly, he met my greatest need at that time — the love of a father. Gaining my heavenly Father, through Jesus, took the sting out of losing the love of my earthly father.
Secondly, God was sustaining the faith he had given me. I still had many trials to endure through my teenage years, with health problems, medical confusion, misdiagnosis and an unsympathetic school more concerned about my attendance record than my health.
When others failed or doubted me — when I even doubted myself — I could look back to this night of conversion and cling to the fact that God loved me. This encouraged me to trust everything to him in prayer.
Receiving eternal life in Christ did not bring an immediate change in my physical health, or family and financial circumstances. Instead God revealed the depth of his love in my suffering, his faithfulness in my trials, and his power to help me overcome my difficulties.
God taught me to trust his Word, as found in the Bible. The more I have learned from it, the more I have found God’s promises and wisdom to be true. The more I have applied the Bible to my life, the more I have appreciated that God’s way is the best.
Of course, there are times when I have failed and lacked faith, but God has always been ready to forgive whenever I have repented.
Since early adulthood, the Lord has blessed me with a sufficient level of health to participate fully in life. I became a teacher and also, wonderfully, a wife. My Christian husband and I are continuing to discover together the joy of following the light of the world. Jesus is indeed our life, from now into eternity.