Life. You only get one so why not live it and live it to the full. Live hard play hard!
At one point i would have so agreed with this. Life is about living, being successful, popular and to do with as you please. Some people make better choices than others and well at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. You only get one life so live it!
I was very much content with this philosophy of mine. As far as i could tell at the age of 15 i was ticking all the boxes.Heading for high grades at GCSE with ambitions of graduating in law. I had a great group of friends and as far as morals, well i was a good person.
I’d have been alright with this philosophy until a friend of mine invited me along to her youth group. A little suspicious i enquired a little more as to what this youth group was all about. From what i could gather they did some pretty interesting stuff and from the crowd she described they seemed like a nice bunch. Having agreed to go along the following week i began to get a nagging feeling at the back of my mind. Christians? Am i really going to go and hang out with some religious people who will probably talk and talk at me until they’re blue in the face about me needing to believe in God or i was going to burn in hell? Not so appealing hey! Reluctantly off i went, expecting to meet with some really unfashionable backward thinking individuals. It’s just one evening i reminded myself. Little was i to know that walking through the doors of that church was going to totally transform the rest of my life….
Quite the opposite! NORMAL! Actually rather fashionable and to top that friendly! Nobody even mentioned God or the bible and they weren’t all that keen to know if i went to church. they just spent time getting to know me and genuinely showed interest in who i was and my ambitions in life. My preconceptions were absolutely shattered. Despite this, and wanting to return to the youth group, i very clearly said to myself i’m not going to believe what they have to say. During the bible study i’ll just stay quiet and think about other things.
This wasn’t so. Each week it seemed as if the part of the bible they were looking at was written just for me. How did they know? Who did they think they were? Whilst a little angry and a little uncomfortable at points i kind of liked some of the teachings. They did make a lot of sense and well, why wouldn’t you want to love your neighbour? So it began. I started to think about how i could implement some of these things in my life. Stop swearing, stop getting drunk with my friends and try to be nicer to people. Simple! Or NOT! No matter how hard i tried these things just weren’t all that easy. Why should i stop them anyway? I liked doing these things and everyone else i knew was doing it so why not? Easy, i’ll have this life with these friends and then i’ll try to make sure i don’t slip up in front of the christians, it was only a few hours a week it had to be easier.
It wasn’t enough though and going along to a youth event confirmed this to me. I can’t explain to this day what moved me so much but i just remember my eyes filling with tears. Had anyone seen me? I didn’t think so, but i knew that there was more to this bible stuff and i should maybe try to understand a little more. As it happened we began a course as a youth group called Christianity explored. We began to look at the life of Jesus and what the bible told us about his time on earth and suddenly i had loads of questions and wanted to get to grips with this intriguing person.I even started to think about these things outside of youth group!
After a good year or so of exploring Christianity and the person Jesus claimed to be i came to a point where i’d happily say i believed it all, i was convinced it was true and became happy to be associated with Christian things. Yet i hadn’t quiet understood that just knowing it was right wasn’t really it. Not until a particular youth event when i distinctly remember being surrounded by 60ish youths all singing their hearts out in worship to God. I saw how it wasn’t just the excitement, they seemed to actually believe with all their heart what they were singing.
“I live fixed on you” (meaning on jesus)
I so wanted this. In my heart i’d begun to see that my friends in youth and the leaders themselves had so much joy in knowing Jesus. Not just knowing about Him but actually intimately knowing Him and speaking to Him through praying. I WANT THAT! Having tiptoed around the fact i was maybe interested i was invited to meet with Janet who challenged me as to where i was at. She clearly explained how all i had to do was to accept Jesus into my life and be truly sorry for my disobedience to God and to let Him guide my life from now on. I guess in the hope that i’d pray a prayer to that effect she then went on to pray for me. Silence. No matter how much i wanted it, and i really did, i still held back. The problem? I couldn’t deal with the fact that by accepting this wonderful loving relationship with Christ and the forgiveness and hope of heaven found in that wouldn’t be extended to my family. How could i leave them behind?
Restless, that same night at home i prayed. Probably the most scatty prayer ever, but it was from my heart. I knew that a relationship with Jesus was what i was designed for, what in the depths of my heart i really longed for and from what i could tell, being a holy and powerful God, i could trust Him as far as my family were concerned.
So what now? Well i still love Jesus! As relationships deepen so has mine with Christ. I’ve grown to understand Him that little bit better, and the more i start to grasp what the cross really is all about i can’t help but think wow! I’m by no means “a perfect christian”, i don’t think they exist! But by His spirit and His word God is gently moulding me to be more like himself. I don’t find this easy, it often means that i am challenged in my thinking and the idols of my heart are revealed. It makes me vulnerable and identifies me as weak, but in His power and strength i know i can face each and every day.
Lost? Once i was, as the bible describes, an enemy of God. Out of a relationship with Him.
Found? Now, i am reconciled because of Christ. He paid the price in order that i may be bought back into a loving relationship with my heavenly father.