I was driving home, and suddenly I felt so empty and lost. I became really upset, wondering where I was going with my life. What changed?
I’d moved to Cardiff with work, and two people on my team became Christians. I’d watched them get baptised, and they’d told the stories of how their lives had completely changed for the best — and it made me seriously think!
I thought I had a nice life, doing what everyone else was doing, focusing on things I thought I wanted and needed, but I wasn’t happy. Deep down I was crying and I remember calling out to God to help me.
So I began to read about what it meant to be a Christian. I thought I knew what Christianity was all about, having gone to church as a child, but it became clear that I really wasn’t sure about lots of things. I had wasted enough time. I was an adult now, and I needed to figure out what life was all about.
I had this sense of God, looking at the beauty of nature, the complexity of life — design was everywhere! I thought too of dying — coming face to face with God. There would be no excuse I could give him. Surely this is the biggest question in life, so why was I doing nothing about it?
I started attending church. Later I went on a Christianity Explored course, which helped clarify things for me and I really started to understand what being a Christian was all about. It was about Jesus, why he came and why he died.
I realised that the world we live in is a broken world, because of the sin that entered it. This caused us to be separated from God, wanting to live our lives our own way without answering to him. That brokenness was true; it described me!
But, I also realised that God loves me and has given me a way out to be saved from this. He sent his Son, Jesus, so that I could know God through him, and if I trusted in Jesus’ death on the cross — in my place, for my sins — then I could be forgiven. Because Jesus dealt with my sin on the cross, it meant I no longer had to be separated from God.
This ultimate love and sacrifice deeply moved me and I realised I was a sinner, and felt guilty for the way I had been living my life. I prayed honestly to God, I confessed to him the things that I was ashamed of and asked for his forgiveness.
That year I had great opportunity at a Christian conference in Aberystwyth to really focus and learn more. The message of the Bible became more real and started fitting together.
At the beginning of this account, I told you about driving home, deeply upset because I wasn’t happy. I’d just heard a friend tell me how God had changed him. He was so happy and full of this joy. I hadn’t felt that way myself. I had been sceptical of what he told me. I just didn’t understand how it could be true.
And now I was driving home from the Christian conference in Aberystwyth. But, this time, driving home was like no other day. Something wonderful happened: suddenly it all made perfect sense.
My eyes felt like they were opened and I could see the world clearly. I was just so moved by the power of this conviction that I was crying. It was amazing, and I knew that this was it; I knew that I really did believe that Jesus died for me.
Life didn’t feel right before, because that separation from God was the cause of the emptiness I was feeling. No longer being separated from God has made me feel so complete and at peace. It was incredibly liberating.
Before the conference, I was worried with what people would think, so I hadn’t told anyone I was going to a Christian conference for a whole week. But after, I wasn’t worried any more about what they thought. I just honestly told whoever asked. It felt I was finally being true to God, being open about my trust in him. I wasn’t hiding away what I believed any more.
It keeps on amazing me how this conviction has changed my life. All those years ago, I did not think submitting my life to God would be the most exciting thing in the world. But now it feels like I’m finally alive and nothing else compares.
Esther van der Spoel