I had attended Church all my life and for the first 16 years I did not understand what it meant to be a Christian. At that age I became curious because someone I knew had a personal relationship with God. This led me to go to a Church where I heard things I had never appreciated before. The men I heard preach seemed to explain the Bible more clearly. As I listened I felt that I too wanted to be a Christian even though people already accepted me as a Christian because I had claimed to be one. Secretly I felt there was something missing in my life. At that time I desperately wanted to be right with God.
However, at the age of 32 whilst in a mid-week meeting here in Carlisle I was suddenly made to feel that the words of the title of this testimony were true of me. I realised God’s scale of justice showed I was failing to meet his standard. The Holy Spirit made me feel the weight of my sin. The preacher was speaking from the Old Testament of the Bible about a people who were proud, independent of God and indifferent to Him. In that Sermon I realised how holy and just God is and how sinful I was and failing to meet his requirements of me. There was a time of prayer when people could join in and pray out loud but I was not used to that. Even so, I did pray and I remember what I prayed – ‘Lord make me sincere and help me to be right with you. Amen!’ The Bible says that ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ That fear is not fright but a respect for God as to who and what he is.
The next day in the quietness of my home I cried to God and pleaded with Him to have mercy upon me and forgive all my sins. I realised he could do that because Jesus had paid the full price for my sins and discharged my debt. God gave me the gift of repentance (sorrow for sin) and faith to trust him alone for my salvation and abandon any good things that I might claim for myself. He did that and peace came into my life and remains today.
Sometimes I sadly fail to do what God requires of me. However, when I fail I immediately confess my sins and he forgives me. I am re-assured of forgiveness. This is because it depends on what Jesus has done for me and not on my own efforts.
Life is not always smooth as on earth we face many problems. Such a one confronted me about 10 years ago when serious illness brought me close to death. In Intensive Care in the Cumberland Infirmary I recall in my extreme weakness praying to God and leaving my life in his hands. I was able to do this because I was ready to meet him were he to take me at that time. He gave me a sense of peace. Happily he restored me to health.
I still have problems like everyone else in this world but the words of a hymn bring comfort –
‘As we face tomorrow
with its problems great and small
I’ll trust the God of miracles
give to him my all.’