I came from a good working class home and left school at fifteen – when a lot of questions suddenly seemed important to me. Who am I? Where do I fit into the scheme of things? Can we find happiness in a world where most people are out for themselves? Nothing really made sense.
Religion, I felt, was the worst confidence trick of all. It seemed to say, ‘Do your best, do good to others, and you will be okay’. But while you were doing that, ‘the others’ were busy kicking you in the teeth. Such thoughts, like dreams, surfaced unexpectedly and disappeared just as quickly.
Finding out about God
But then several things happened. First, a young friend died and death came close for the first time. I was shattered. Then, shortly afterwards, I had to have part of my lung removed and I thought I too was going to die. I was thirty years old!
As I began to recover, the enormity of what had happened to me struck home. I prayed properly for the first time in my life – ‘God, if you exist, help me find you!’
The third event took place as my wife and I began to pick up the threads of our lives again. I got up early one Sunday morning to take our babysitter home, and imagine my surprise when I returned to see my wife up and dressed. Apparently she had arranged for the children to go to Sunday school at a nearby church.
There was something even more remarkable. I found myself not only approving the idea but suggesting we should go to the church service ourselves!
There I began to find out about the God revealed in the Bible. I heard that originally mankind had a relationship with God but became separated from him by sin. There was no way we ourselves could re-establish this relationship – for example, by trying to improve ourselves and doing good deeds. The only way was to ask God for forgiveness and trust in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Only in this way could we be made right with God in this life – and made fit to enter heaven when we die.
A changed life
I realised that I could no more change my sinful nature than a leopard could change its spots. I needed to ask God to make me what I could never make myself – a new person in Jesus Christ.
So for the second time in my life I really prayed, asking God to forgive me and give me a new nature – and help me serve him instead of myself (as I had done for thirty years). He accepted me just as I was and began to change me from the inside out.
Some weeks later my wife was also converted and we began a new life with God – and a new life with each other as God healed our relationship as man and wife, father and mother. I am still learning more about Jesus Christ as I press on towards the glorious time ahead when I will at last, face to face, see the one who loved me and gave himself for me.