3rd Year IT Management, Edinburgh Napier Uni
"There was never a time I didn’t believe in God, but it was a long time before I truly understood who He was, why He existed or the significance of Jesus.
I was fortunate enough to be brought up in a Christian home by parents who took me to church every Sunday. I enjoyed the Sunday school stories about God and this cool guy called Jesus, but the deeper meaning of it all was never clear to me. I had a good knowledge of God and the Bible, but I didn’t know how it applied to me personally. I didn’t understand sin. I thought sin was just doing bad things, like swearing or hurting someone. As a result, I didn’t really care about “the gospel”. It was just all a bunch of cool stories to me. I just focused on being popular and having a good time, and I never really thought about God except on Sundays.
As I grew up, my desire to be popular and fit in at school got stronger, and I cared less about what was being taught at church. But this just made me feel empty and alone. On Sunday I would pretend to pray and read the Bible, then on Monday I would hang out with the “football lads”, swearing and fighting. I enjoyed the feeling of fitting in, but there would always be a voice in my head going “This is wrong”. The whole time, I knew God was there, but I didn’t want to turn to him. And yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something in my life.
When I moved up to high school, I went to the Scripture Union group a few times before the fear of being excluded by my friends stopped me from going at all. I ended up feeling very confused and lonely. I was living a double life. When I was 14, a few people from the SU group, including my older sister Rebecca, told me that they really wanted me to come back, even going as far as creating a petition for my return. No joke! So, reluctantly, I started going again. That was the beginning of the (long) journey that would ultimately bring me to Christ.
I started paying more attention to the talks at SU, my church youth group and Scouts. While I was definitely learning, I still had burning questions that needed answering. What’s the point in all this? Why are my friends putting Jesus before anything else in their lives? Over time, by God’s grace, I began to get answers to these questions. As I observed how my friends lived entirely for God, I began to ask myself what had gone wrong with my life. “What did I miss?” I wondered. Then, God began showing me the answer to this question! Like a lot of people, I would think “I’m not as bad as that person” or “I’m not the best but I’m still a pretty good person”. But on a weekend away with my church youth group, it all became clear to me. A guy was speaking on a book in the Bible called Romans, highlighting the importance of being “transformed and renewed” by God. It then became clear to me that I needed to be “made new”. I needed Jesus to change me. It all just kind of flooded all at once, and it all began to click. I was sinful. Jesus was perfect. God loved us. Jesus died to take our punishment. God raised Jesus from the dead. I needed to live for Christ, not for myself. I understood that I could never get rid of my sin and I needed Jesus to take it away. That night I prayed for Jesus to forgive me and save me. I was determined to put God first and to follow his will. I wanted to be a Christian.
I was filled with immense joy. I finally knew who Jesus was and what he had done for me. But I knew that I wasn’t just subjecting myself to a set of rules. I would live for God’s glory because I wanted to, not because I had to. It was really hard, though, and I ended up sticking out like a sore thumb at school. My friends constantly teased and picked on me. It was so humiliating. I kept asking myself “Have I made a mistake?”. I tried to hold on to Jesus and trust in Him, knowing deep down that he was real. I was encouraged by friends at church and when I was shown a verse from the gospel where Jesus says to his disciples “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22), I knew I had to keep going. And I’m so glad that I did.
Six years on, obeying God every day is still really hard, but I love him more than I ever thought I could, and it’s all thanks to Jesus. It’s in my human nature to disobey God and do things how I want to, but I know now that I can’t do that. But God will always forgive me for my sins, no matter how many times I mess up. And that right there is the wonderful truth of the gospel. God loves you so much that he will always forgive you (John 3:16). Learning more about the promises God made and fulfilled in the Bible and seeing what he does for me totally affirms my faith in Him. He’s never let me down, and I know he never will. Jesus says in John 6:37 “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away”, and that is what I want everyone to understand. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or how many times you’ve messed up or done something wrong. Jesus loves you, and he wants to save you."