My story of becoming a ‘Christ follower’ & my first steps in that ‘new life’ …

I was apprehended by Jesus at the age of 15.

Life before that was pretty good – stable home, wonderful parents, pestilent brother (!), decent school, fine mates, brilliant era (1960’s). A typical teenager (minus drugs & booze) – chased girls, loved soccer, enjoyed the Rolling Stones music, played truant, told naughty jokes – with a few non-typical quirks: e.g. reading the Morning Star (UK’s Communist newspaper), running a protection racket for weak kids, attending church (hate to admit this, but assure you it WAS under protest), and occasionally losing sleep wondering what life was all about !!

NO DOUBT about it – I was PRAYED for – oh yes, grandparents, parents, uncles & aunts, pastors & church members – had me on top of their hit-lists. Regretfully, I could do little about people like Mrs H – an elderly intercessor, who just wouldn’t let go. Now, much to my shame, I must confess that knowing of her regular sorties into God’s throne-room on my behalf, made me feel quite angry, even hateful, towards her !!

BUT … I was apprehended, and capitulated, one February evening, after sensing God’s Presence, knowing I wasn’t part of His Family, breaking down in tears, and ended up making a commitment which has held over 44 years. I’ll never forget when understanding of a particular Bible verse first hit home. It says: “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to FORGIVE our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” – and it was like turning a light on in a darkened room. My youthful ‘sins’ suddenly seemed so enormous, yet God’s offer of forgiveness was so much bigger … and as I poured my young heart out, with sobbing, there came such a relief, a sense of peace which I just cannot describe in words, along with an amazing sense of ‘belonging’.

I didn’t know much theology – BUT I knew then and there that my sins were forgiven, because God was true to His Word. Later I was to understand that such forgiveness was possible because Jesus had died as my Substitute, taking my place under God’s wrath, so that mercy could reach and pardon me.  (Heavy duty stuff – but so accessible)

Amazingly, as I travelled home that night back in February 1967 it was as though my feet didn’t touch the ground. In addition to the sense of peace, already described, there was a feeling of utter joy, of lightness of spirit…the world suddenly seemed a different place, and I knew that I’d now been accepted into the family of God.

New birth brings new life, and I’m so grateful I was shown, very early on, what were the essentials for that new life to grow … interaction with God (known also as ‘prayer’), feeding heart and mind on Scripture (the Bible), regular fellowship with other believers, and sharing my faith with non-believers (also known as ‘witnessing’).  I soon discovered that applying myself to these four things did in fact bring a lot of personal growth, enjoyment and fulfilment:

  • I found that God really does answer prayer … occasionally in remarkable ways – physical healing when I’ve been ill, provision of material needs, and ordering my affairs with a precision that often left me astonished.
  • I found that reading and studying the Bible, and meditating in its pages, fed both mind & spirit in a manner that no other literature  could – and I love reading!
  • I found that sharing in church with real ‘believers’ through expressions of worship, prayer, communion, and teaching were incredibly challenging, stimulating and uplifting (although I’ve never attended a perfect church, or met a perfect ‘Christian’ yet)
  • I found that sharing my personal faith with non-believers was like exercising my physical muscles – it helped shape & strengthen that faith. And what a remarkable privilege to lead another person into a personal relationship with God, which happened more than once.

SO, that’s how it all got started – a journey of more than 40 years … and today, as I reflect, I’m so grateful to God for His kindness, patience & love which have kept me through all that time, in my faltering attempts to follow.  Thank you, Lord Jesus !