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Youth Supplement – Delivered from doubt

July 2009 | by Hannah Bottomley

Delivered from doubt

 

Because my parents are Christians, I’ve been going to church for my whole life and grew up hearing the gospel. I knew from an early age that I needed to be a Christian to go to heaven, and can remember praying when I was about 5 years old – ‘Dear God, please make me a Christian, Amen’. As far as I was aware, this had done the trick.

 

As I got older I was often told that ‘Jesus died for my sins’ but I didn’t really understand what that meant. I knew that I had to ask for forgiveness, so I did. But I know now that I didn’t really feel sorry at all. When I was 10 I started to go to ‘MaD Camp’ – an annual weeklong camp in Wales that I heard about through family friends.

     I always had a great time doing the activities and even enjoyed the Bible studies and evening meetings. At camp and at youth groups at my own church, I would listen to what I was being told – but I always had the attitude, ‘This doesn’t apply to me; I’m already a Christian’.

     I would pray and read my Bible occasionally, but it started to worry me that I was just doing it because I was supposed to, and that I rarely paid attention at church because I found it boring. I began to realise that I wasn’t like Christians I knew, who talked about ‘being saved’ and how great it was.

 

Growing doubts

 

My doubts about my own salvation grew, so I would often pray for forgiveness, but it frustrated me that I never felt any different afterwards. I remember one year at camp when I was 13, we were given a booklet full of testimonies of people who had been converted at camp. Most of them spoke about an exact day and time when they had found Jesus, and I cried as I read it because I knew that this hadn’t happened to me.

     I’m not even sure of the year that I really became a Christian, but I must have been 13 or 14 years old. I never did have a ‘moment’ where I suddenly knew I had been saved, so I struggled with doubts about my faith for a long time. I didn’t know many Christians that were my age and I always avoided talking about spiritual things – worrying that people would think I wasn’t a Christian after all.

 

Baptised

 

When I was 15 I started talking to Christians who were my age, mostly from camp, and started to pray and read my Bible more often (now because I wanted to). This helped me a lot with my doubts and by the time I was 16 I was sure of my salvation. So in September 2007 I was baptised.

     When I spoke to my minister beforehand, I was relieved to hear that a lot of Christians don’t know exactly when they were saved and that this is actually quite common with people brought up in a Christian home.

     One thing he said that I found encouraging and has stuck with me was: ‘You don’t remember your first birth either, but it still happened’.

     Since then my faith has grown and I’ve grown closer to God, particularly when he has helped me through difficult times. I’ve never found my walk with God easy, but I know that I have been forgiven – and that he is with me every step of the way.

Hannah Bottomley