Living two lives
Jackie Tomlin discovered that you cannot serve two masters.
Christianity was something I was brought up with. I always assumed that one day – probably when I was middle-aged with a family and had done everything I wanted to do – I would then decide to become a Christian.
Little did I know of the grace of God – that I didn’t have the power to choose to follow him but that he needed to choose me. Nor did I understand that my redemption depended on the blood of Christ, not on my decision or my good deeds. I thought I would choose how to lead my own life but God had a different plan for me.
Trying to be one of the crowd
I grew up in a loving family, all of who were Christians. For me at a young age this meant attending church and the associated clubs – it was like a hobby really. I went to church with my family every Sunday and heard stories and sermons but I never really listened. It wasn’t until I started senior school that I noticed that none of my classmates attended church, even though it was a Catholic school! I realised that I was different.
People used to laugh and joke about church, so in the end I told them I had stopped going because it was stupid. This wasn’t true, of course, but I wanted them to believe that I was like everyone else.
My church life seemed to stay very separate from the rest of my life. It was like living two lives – the good little girl on a Sunday for my parents and the girl who was just trying to be one of the crowd at school with my friends. I was trying to serve two masters.
This continued until I went to college and got in with a bad crowd. Like most teenagers, I was rude to my parents and started to work on Sundays.
Thinking about death
But just before I was due to start at university, I began to feel unsatisfied. I didn’t enjoy going out with my friends the way
I used to and I became really fed up with that scene. I also started to think about death – what would happen to me when I died and where I would go? This played on my mind.
Then I started to remember things I had heard at church for all those years. I began to think about God and Jesus every single day. I didn’t know why, I just couldn’t stop. Although I hadn’t been to church for more than a year, I felt the need to go back to get some answers.
However, I never got round to doing so because I moved away to university in Winchester. But I did start attending Spring Road Evangelical Church in Southampton, as my sister was a Christian and went there. I spent all my weekends in Southampton and really enjoyed it. I preferred to be with my Christian friends than with the new ones I’d met at university.
The joy of knowing Christ
After listening to sermons I realised that I was not a Christian and that I would go to hell if I died. I started to listen to the word of God and absorbed everything that was being said. I felt a real sense of guilt, my conscience was throbbing and this feeling would not fade.
The way I had been living my life was wrong – I could never be satisfied with the selfish life that I was living. I knew that the only one who could save me was the Lord Jesus Christ. It was at this point that I realised I had a Saviour, someone who had died to save me – not only in this life but also for eternity.
I can’t remember the exact date, but I had spent the night out with college friends in a local pub. I remember just looking at what they were doing and thinking I didn’t want to be there – I wanted to be out of that kind of scene for ever. That night I prayed and prayed until I knew I had been heard and that I was saved through Jesus Christ. I was 18 years old.
The most amazing thing
People used to tell me that to become a Christian would mean giving up everything in life that is fun. But since becoming a Christian I can truly say I’ve gained more than I have given up. I have not gained money or a life without pain or struggle but I have gained friends and people I love. More than this, I have gained a life of fellowship with the God who created us. This is the most amazing thing you could possibly have.
I know that if I die tomorrow or in fifty years time I will be with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. I pray that if you have not already found this for yourself you will ‘seek the Lord while he may be found and call on him while he is near’ (Isaiah 55:6) – that you might discover the joy that comes from knowing Christ, the Saviour of the world, and the certainty of his love.