Being a teenager in Llanelli, Wales, in the 1970s seemed great to me. The ‘Scarlets’ had beaten the ‘All Blacks’ and gone on to win the Rugby Cup Final four times in row. As well as this, there were always Scarlets in the Welsh team and touring with the British Lions.
The Welsh team was doing well, winning most of its games, Triple Crowns and Grand Slams. So there was no need to ask who my heroes were!
I was just an average boy at Grammar School, living to see Llanelli win. If they lost it was a real downer. Life was great, but three things were about to happen to change everything.
Seeing the difference
The first thing that happened was that I did not get the ‘A’ level grades I needed to go to University. Although I was disappointed, I was grateful to get a job in the town.
The second was that I met the girl I eventually married, and have never regretted that! The third was that I became a Christian. This is the story of how that happened.
My parents were Christians (my father was a preacher) and from the earliest age I went to chapel three times every Sunday and to ‘Band of Hope’ children’s meetings midweek. There never was a time when I did not believe there was a God. I knew the Bible well and was used to chapel life and everything that went along with it.
But I was also hearing that going to church or chapel did not make you a real Christian; that it was even possible to know the Bible inside out – yet still not be a Christian. I was also aware that there was such a thing as false Christian ‘faith’.
I could see all this in the difference between me and my parents. When they spoke about God there was a reality about it, but with me there was not.
When I was sixteen two boys in my class said they had become Christians. To my amazement, they went around the maths class one day asking the rest if they were Christians. When they asked me, I simply answered ‘no’.
A few weeks later they asked me to a youth Bible study. The first impression when I got there was that these people had the same reality as my parents when they talked about God. Only this time I was seeing it in the lives of people my own age.
I now knew for sure that there was something missing in my life. These boys were like me in many ways; they liked rugby and supported the Scarlets. But there was this big difference – they had experienced the Christian conversion I had heard about in chapel. They knew God but I only knew about him. I envied them.
A new way
As the months wore on, exams came and went and I was restless. I knew I was a sinner and that however well (or badly) I did in my exams, I had failed God with my life.
There was no way God could let a failed sinner like me into his perfect heaven. But I also knew that there was a way for my sins to be forgiven through faith in ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified’.
Eventually I realised I needed to ask Christ to forgive me. He did, and the restlessness disappeared. Jesus said: ‘I am the way…’ and I had found that way.
I am telling you about this twenty-four years later. Being a Christian has given me a whole new way of looking at life, a way that works.
Life as an average family man has its ups and downs. But no matter what the future holds I realise that faith in Jesus Christ does not fall apart under the pressures of life, because he graciously upholds his children.
Although I am not perfect and make many mistakes, I know that one day I am going to be with God in heaven. This is what God has promised to everyone who trusts in his Son Jesus, and God always keeps his promises.