Once I was blind – now I see
Being born into a Christian family is a tremendous blessing. During the first twelve years of my life, Christianity and church were the norm for me. But the first time I seriously thought about Christianity was in my teens, when I was struck by the reality of hell. Then, after a restless night of terror, that was it for a long time.
My struggles over a relationship were pivotal for me. She and I were very good friends. I fell for her; and I was left with a dilemma. As I heard the beckoning call of the gospel, I knew if I accepted the call to repent and believe in Christ, I couldn’t ever have a deep relationship with an unsaved girl (I’d already understood that when you are saved, your heart’s desires change).
So I hardened my heart. Three years of rebellion against the gospel followed and then she rejected me anyway. Twice our friendship dissolved messily, and I knew for the first time the dark beast of sin within me at its most bitter and destructive.
However, I now recognise that the Lord was taking her out of my life. Since being saved, that beast of sin has reared its head many times, but in the words of Johnny Cash, ‘that beast is caged today’.
During that three year period I didn’t want anything to do with the gospel. I dragged myself to church, often grumbled, and said openly on occasions that I was never going to go the way of the rest of my family (my elder brother and sister were saved around 10-12 years old at church camps). Many tears were shed for me, and I remember many a private plea from family members to believe.
However, with Miss Distraction out of the way, the Lord slowly began to soften my heart. But I had a new problem – I didn’t know how to believe. I vividly remember sitting listening to the gospel preached Sunday after Sunday, hearing the call to believe, with my stomach like a washing machine because I didn’t understand.
I tried so hard to visualise Christ on the cross, trust in him, and feel some sort of inner peace and knowledge that I’d been saved, but it wasn’t happening. But I knew God was speaking to me and teaching me, because every week I’d have a different issue or question and often next week’s sermon answered it.
I eventually moved to Cardiff to do a Business Studies degree. Although there were plenty of encouragements from there being a large number of young Christians in the church I went to, I still had the same problem.
I remember one person telling to read my own name into John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes on him shall not perish but have eternal life’, but it still wasn’t real.
Eventually, many prayers and several mind-wrenching conversations later, mostly with my church pastor – I saw it: I can’t do anything, I can’t even lift one finger to believe; faith isn’t an effort to reach some high standard of heart state; faith in Christ is admitting you have no resources or strength to save yourself and resting entirely on his finished work of atoning for our sins on the cross.
Sin remains an irritating, disgusting, selfish desire that sometimes stains my heart, but although I veer off the path the Lord always draws me back to himself.
It’s a marathon race, slow and steady – no sprinting. Oh for a closer walk with Christ, where the relationship between me and my Saviour is so intimate and direct that eternity and time meld together as one!
But he has kept me for the past three years, and I believe he will lead me all the way.