There is a time for everything, a time to be born and a time to die. Everything about our life in this world happens between those two points. And the most amazing thing that can happen to us is that we come to know Jesus Christ as our Saviour.
Today, over 30 years after I first came to know Jesus, I am more amazed than ever at what he has made possible for us, and I realise that I am only on the cusp of discovering how awesome God is.
How did my journey begin? As a child, some time after my granny died, I asked my mother what happened when you died. She replied that you would go either to heaven or hell.
Then I asked what hell was like and she said quite simply, ‘It’s a place where if you get sick you will never get better, because there is no medicine’.
This got across to me very clearly that hell was a place I didn’t want to end up in. I suffered badly from asthma and there were days when I had a bad chest cold and would long for someone to cut a hole in my throat so I could breathe.
I was so glad for antibiotics. But I played over and over in my mind what my mother had said about hell. It was more than I could bear, so I had to make sure I would end up in heaven.
But how would I get there? I tried, like so many others before and after me, to ‘be good’, but it never lasted. It seemed the more I tried to make myself ‘better’, the worse I got. I was trying to repair a mess that was beyond repair.
I was scared to talk to God because of what he might say or what he might ask me to do, but eventually during a talk at a Christian camp in Muirkirk, in July 1977, I realised that I couldn’t repair my life and make it acceptable to God.
I realised too that I could give him the mess that it was and he could give me a new life. So I put aside my pride and fear and asked God to forgive and change me. And he did!
There were no lights in the sky saying, ‘You are now a Christian’; and there was no letter in the post saying that I had been accepted as a member into the family of God; but my life was different.
I didn’t have to be told to go to church; I wanted to go. There was a hunger in my heart to read God’s Word, spend time with God’s people and talk to God in prayer. That was the beginning of what has been the most incredible journey.
I left school with great plans for how I was going to live my life for God. I thought by the time I got to 40 I would be a really good, holy person, that I would have learnt to leave struggles and temptation behind me, and I would know him better.
I was wrong on everything except the last part. I have realised that actually knowing God is different to knowing about him. Today I am beginning to get a fresh glimpse of how awesome and amazing God is.
I have often got so caught up in living my life here on earth, with all its hassles and problems, that I have stopped thinking about who God actually is.
Recently, God has shaken me and shown me he is not just Someone who can do things we can’t, but he is a star-making, incredible, awesome God.
It is too easy to be dazzled by man’s own achievements and forget who has made all these possible. So what started out as a journey running away from something (a lost eternity) has become a journey running to Someone — Someone who takes my breath away — especially when I think of what he did to make it possible for me to become a Christian.
My life has taken me to many different places in the world. I’ve seen and experienced some incredible things. But the most amazing thing I have ever seen is a life changed by the Lord Jesus Christ, because it is permanent and real.
The saddest things I have seen are those who have heard the message of Jesus and then walk away, somehow convincing themselves that they can sort things out for themselves.
‘But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.
‘And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
‘For it is by grace you have been saved through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:4-8). Whoa! Why would you not want this gift?