I want to tell you how I came to be a Christian and what God has done for me.
My parents first brought me to Buckingham Chapel in Bristol when I was aged four. I attended Sunday school and church on a regular basis, right up to the age of about 17.
Then I stopped going, because one Sunday night I fell asleep in the service. It just went in one ear and out the other, as I found it all very boring. I really didn’t have time for it.
It wasn’t that I didn’t believe. In fact, I have always believed in God; that he had created all things; that Jesus his Son had come to earth, died and rose again; and that he will return again at the end of the world.
But it was all just information to me like a history lesson and it didn’t mean any more than that. It didn’t mean anything to me personally.
I attended a Billy Graham rally when I was about 18 and was moved emotionally by the experience; so much so, that I thought I had become a Christian. I was enthusiastic and caught up with it all, but it was a short lived experience.
I soon moved on and forgot all about it. I even told one person, who later asked me about it, that it had been a ‘phase’ I was going through.
In my 20s and early 30s I lived life with no thought of God and, like a lot of people, did what I wanted to. Relationships, socialising and entertainment were what mattered. The people I saw as Christians had no ‘fun’, as I saw it, and I even thought some were hypocrites.
I began to realise something was missing in my life. It didn’t seem to matter how many things I’d done or where I’d been, I felt an emptiness inside — a kind of lost and restless feeling, wondering what it was all about.
One day I picked up a Bible. What made me do that? At the time I would have said it was the cover that caught my eye. It was bright and colourful, with the word ‘youth’ written on it. It was so easy to read that I actually couldn’t put it down.
This time the words, as I read them, seemed so clear to me. I was beginning to actually understand for myself what was written. It meant something to me; it was personal, not just history notes.
I prayed to God continually to make me understand it and he did indeed open my eyes. I realised my life and the way I lived was not the way God had intended. I had turned away from him, when he had done so much for me.
It was like at the end of an evening at a club when the lights go on. No longer is there great music and atmosphere, dazzling lights and entertaining people. Instead, there is a plain, dirty room with spilt drink, cigarette ends and all sorts of rubbish all over the floor; everything disguised as ‘fun’ is exposed.
Even though I knew God knew all about my life, I confessed everything to him asking for forgiveness and asking him into my life. Could I have forgiven someone who had treated me so badly?
God has promised that he will forgive through Jesus Christ, and I know that I am saved from the punishment I was due. I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was the beginning of a new life, a new direction.
My new life doesn’t mean I’m perfect with no more problems. I still live with trials and temptations all around me; sin constantly tries to catch me unawares and pull me away.
I drifted away from God. It started subtly, making less time for God, with plausible excuses to myself for doing wrong things. But God has promised that he will never leave me and has brought me back to himself.
He hadn’t made me accidentally pick up the Bible in the first place, years before. I was chosen in Christ. It was in his plans and, because he loves me with an everlasting love, he will not let me go.
I now go through life, with its ups and downs, with a deep contentment and peace that just isn’t possible without trusting in him.
I now know what life is all about. Having a real joy through being saved is amazing, truly amazing; and the best bit — I’m going to be with him in heaven!