Why am I a Christian? How did it come to be? In answer, an entire book could be written, which would have quite a few racy, dramatic, well-thumbed scenes. However, it’s likely that no-one, or almost no-one, would read it in todays racy, well-thumbed, sound-bite world, so instead here’s a brief, somewhat clinical summary.
I was raised in Britain in a Christian home, and I was a born thinker. I thought deeply about most things from whatever age I was at all conscious of the world. I also suffered acutely from loneliness, particularly as my hard-working and wonderful dad was never at home, and my wonderful mum was preoccupied with housework and TV soap operas.
In my teens I fell in love with a girl, and she seemed equally in love with me, but when she dumped me four years later my world came crashing down. What was life all about? What was the point of it? Was anything worth living for? God didn’t enter my mind here. God seemed far, far away, like my dad was.
I took to drink and drugs. The pub and party life was my church where I found fellowship, conversation and a lot of laughs. I was looking for love, whatever that was, but my second serious relationship with a girl ended the same way as the first. I suffered terribly with rejection, and the drink and drugs got stronger. They numbed the pain, at least for as long as I was high. However, two things had come into my life which turned out to be milestones in my journey to faith. First, the second girl’s mother had taken me to church, mostly against my will, and she herself was the real deal- a warm, kind person. The second influence was a professional musical- “Godspell” which I toured with as a musician. The actors themselves were for the most part hedonistic, but one scene in the show, which I could view clearly from my on-stage vantage point, enacted in an abstract way the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every night for ten months, as the lead actor, a Christian, died and rose again, my heart was burning inside me. God, I now know, was calling me. Sadly, I continued to get high for another three years, not knowing any other way to cope with life.
By that time, when I wasn’t high I was suffering severely with depression, and I can remember one night calling on God-whoever or whatever God was-to help me. It was just a simple two-worder, but packed with sincerity! Not long after that, the warehouse I worked in found itself short of work, and I was laid off for the Christmas period. I decided to use the time, and some money I had saved for the first time in my life, to go to visit my eldest sister, who lived five thousand miles away in the United States, just to get away from it all for a while.
What I wasn’t expecting was that she would hook me into attending her church. It may be that the influences I had experienced before helped me to feel safe enough to go along just to please her. There the minister, one Earl Hargis, turned out to also be the real deal. When he preached, my spirit inside me was hugely and deeply aroused, as though God himself was speaking to me: He was. Hargis faithfully relayed the gospel-the good news-of Jesus Christ. That is, that the Son of God came to live among us, and to suffer God’s judgment in our place on the cross. God could then overlook our sin nature, and give us eternal life with Him. On the third day Christ rose from the dead. He will come again to subject the world to himself, and to take us home.
I cannot relate the exact feeling I had when the pastor preached, but God had come for me, and was calling me loudly and clearly. After a month of being so called, I went back to where I was staying one Sunday, got down on my knees, and asked Jesus Christ to save me from my sins, to take over my life, and to change me. The light of God truly came into my life at that point, and very quickly life had meaning and purpose for the first time. The plan of God for me and for the world, which I now realized He had created, made eminent, beautiful sense.
Decades later, I’m still on the same road: the road to eternal life with my God and my saviour, and with all those who’ve heard the call and responded. The road isn’t all strewn with roses, but it’s going in the right direction.
A caution here-not everyone hears the call as loudly as I did: God had to shout to get my attention.