Good morning, I’m Fran a second year student at Jesus College.
My Life - Atheism
I have been very fortunate to be brought up by two loving parents who care for me greatly and have always allowed me to have my own opinions; they have supported my decisions and provided a home framework for my curiosity to develop. Throughout my teenage years I gravitated towards sciences and was ruthlessly ambitious about my future. Considerable success led me to believe that it was me, and me alone who could shape my destiny. I always denied the possibility of a God existing, and hated the idea that someone else could influence my life and those of others.
My Life - Achievement v Unfulfillment
So I was in control of my life: I worked hard at school, was committed and dependable in sporting endeavours and found it easy to make people endeared to me through my humour, honesty and boldness speaking my mind. However, side by side with these tangible achievements was deep-seated unhappiness. Instead of being happy I got into Cambridge, I was angry that so many others at my school did. Getting a 1st last year was greeted with the same reception. Gaining University colours in cricket and becoming a member of the Hawks' club left me simply feeling that I didn’t deserve it. Every time I achieved I was left feeling that I just wanted something more.
Beginnings - last summer term
After exams last summer, I felt I had nothing in the world - exams were over, a gaping hole left in my time, and I had been rejected by the girl I loved. In a drunken conversation with her I remarked, ‘I’ve read the whole Bible and I think it’s the greatest work of fiction, but nothing more’. I couldn’t lie like that to someone I cared so much about, so I thought I’d better make true on my claim. In a time of real lowness I went to the Chapel and read Exodus, and was fascinated by the story of the Israelites. However, it never justified the presence of God, as far as I was concerned he was just someone Moses made up to keep the people in check.
I haven’t enjoyed playing cricket for years, but through it I was fortunate to meet Alex Fergusson. He sensed my interest in Christianity, even just from an academic view at that stage and invited me to a Christianity Explored course. The material I was exposed to was vaguely memorable from RS lessons at school, but was presented in such a convincing manner that I had few arguments against it. However, persuaded though I was I could not believe it was true and told this to Alex and Chrissi in the last session. I was praying to God to reveal himself, and they too prayed that He would show himself dramatically in my life (not that I knew about it at the time).
Christmas - Abergavenny and Illness
Visiting a friend in Wales I came upon a Christian bookstore and saw a title ‘Why Believe?’ by Roger Carswell, which I thought would be interesting. However, at five pounds for 150 pages I thought ‘What a rip-off!’ However, the men at the store sold it to me for three pounds - all I had in my wallet. On 23rd December, I spent the day in discomfort, finally being diagnosed with chicken pox early the next morning. The rash was very irritating and I was quarantined over the Christmas period. However, being cooped up in the house I started to read ‘Why Believe?’ and then John’s Gospel as instructed by the author. At night I prayed to God to deliver me from the illness, and found I was not troubled by it - somehow I knew that I would be ok. On 28th December, I neared the end of the book, where Carswell explained how to allow Christ into your life. As he reached his climax I burst into tears and prayed to Christ that He be my saviour, my sin bearer, and my sovereign for eternity. He accepted my request, and lovingly came to dwell in me.
How it has changed my life
Since coming into my life, Christ has changed me outwardly in many ways. The relationship I have with my girlfriend, who is also a Christian, has become deeper and more meaningful since we seek to know Christ better in one another. Often, however, I feel that inwardly the changes have been minimal. In a service last term, I burst into tears thinking like Jeremiah, ‘Cursed be the day on which I was born’ (Jeremiah 20:14). become more aware every day of how sinful I am in God’s eyes. But in these times of introspection I can turn to the Father and see that he loves me despite all these things, not because of what I have done, but because of what He has done through Christ’s death on the cross. I remind myself that: ‘There is…no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life…has set you free from the law of sin and death.’ (Romans 8:1-2) God’s love is here for everyone, ‘for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous’ (Matthew 5:45), we just need to learn to accept it.