2nd Year Geography & Politics, Uni of Edinburgh.
"I come from Northern Ireland – a beautiful place with a confused history of Christianity. When I was growing up, it was simply just a part of social life; church on Sundays, Boys’ Brigade on Mondays, and assemblies on schooldays. However, I grew up with absolutely no understanding of what Christianity actually meant, nor did it convict me to live any differently than I already did.
Whilst I was in primary school, I would frequently have nightmares about dying. It didn’t matter whether Heaven was real or not, it was simply the inevitability of time which shook me to the core. Even at this early stage in my life I felt that there was something just not quite right about the way the world was – Why was there so much suffering? Why was my family situation so difficult? Why wasn’t everybody just nice to one another?
I first came to realise that not everybody believed in God when I went to secondary school. The Minister didn’t come to this school every Wednesday to talk about Jesus. Peers scoffed at the thought of going to Boys’ Brigade. You were out of place if you didn’t laugh during the Lord’s Prayer in assemblies.
Therefore, I became what could be described as ‘agnostic’. I still went to church the odd Sunday, but it was really just a feel-good tick-box exercise that made no difference to my life during the week. Of course, all my thoughts and beliefs about Christianity came to me without ever actually reading the Bible.
So I got on in life. I did well in school. I got better at rugby. I played Xbox with my friends. Life was just passing me by without any real meaning to the way I lived.
Then girls came into the picture. This is what life was about, right? Getting to sit next to someone in class. How many girls were watching at the side during rugby matches. Finding out who was heading on the next school trip. That butterfly feeling that you pursued to no end, putting aside work, friends and family because you didn’t get as much out of that for yourself than you did chasing the girl you liked.
Then that butterfly feeling becomes insufficient. You seek a more satisfying feeling to fulfill you. You justify it by blaming teenage hormones without even trying to have some kind of self-control. But it’s not innocent now anymore, is it? Why are guilt and regret now the most prevalent feelings in your mind? Why do I feel guilty about normal teenage life?
No satisfaction. Girls. School. Sport. Leisure. Books. Friends. Church. Money. Something just feels missing. Emptiness is seemingly behind all of life’s pleasures. Sound familiar?
Then one night, it clicked. I finally understood.
Jesus Christ was crucified. He died and was buried, before he rose again. He did this because our relationship with God is broken, and we live lives seeking fulfillment and satisfaction, only to find emptiness. He died to forgive us of everything that we have done wrong, so that one day we can be a part of the New Heaven and the New Earth, for all eternity. He died so that every single soul might have the opportunity to turn to Him before they perish. He died to save us.
Revelation 21:4 – ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, or crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away’.
This is what you can look forward to if you accept Jesus into your life.
I was initially overcome with joy that all that I had done wrong in my life was forgiven, that it wouldn’t hinder me in receiving salvation through Jesus. However, in my last years in school it didn’t transform me and the way I lived, for external and internal reasons. It didn’t overly change me as a person, because I didn’t really allow it to.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for God working in my life as a teenager in bringing me to salvation. A Christian friend invited me along to a youth club every week, and I don’t think he knows how truly thankful I am that he did. We heard what I have just described every week, and it convicted me every time without fail.
Then I came to Edinburgh, and everything changed.
Gradually, bit by bit, God transformed me from the inside out. I started attending a church called Carrubbers on the Royal Mile, and got involved in Edinburgh University Christian Union, and my life completely changed.
I no longer disrespected girls, and found pure fulfillment in my relationship with Him in my singleness. I learned to see the value of service and giving yourself up for others, even if they don’t deserve it – as that’s what Jesus did for us. I was blessed with the most incredible influence from Christian friends and mentors, who through their witness and teaching showed me how a life lived according to God’s recommendations is the most satisfying life one could possibly have. In stark contrast to my teenage self, I now understand how amazing the beautiful purpose of marriage is – a self-sacrificial love for one another reflecting the picture of Jesus giving Himself up for the church.
Submitting myself to God was the best decision I’ve ever made. He encompasses every part of my life – my studies, my roles and responsibilities in societies, my chats over coffee, my rest and relaxation, my relationships – I do everything for His glory in response to what has been done for me.
Don’t read this as my success story. Read this as a true, genuine account of how the beauty of Jesus Christ’s death completely transforms those who respond. The world today is stained by individualism, self-pleasure, and power – and inevitably – emptiness.
Don’t you think there’s something more?"