From an early age I have gone to church with my family, and therefore I was read the bible and heard God’s word at home from when I was little.
I can’t give one moment when I would say I became a Christian, which was a frustration for me for a long time. I felt that, if God wanted me to follow him, then he would reveal himself to me. When no dramatic sign materialised itself, it resulted in me doubting whether God was listening or interested in me.
I don’t think that I doubted the existence of God, partly because I grew up hearing about him and partly because I saw him as the only reason for creation, but I struggled to believe I could have a personal relationship with him.
I have experienced points as a Christian where I have felt close to God, for instance at Christian summer camps when surrounded by others worshiping God. These points left me feeling a strong emotional connection to God, which in the moment left me convinced of my faith.
However many experiences left me feeling weak in my faith. For example coming back from camp to a school where very few people were Christian, lead to me feeling more distant from God and his word. It often meant I stopped reading the bible on my own and felt going to church was boring.
Over a period of time God showed me how I had misplaced my hope.
On one level I knew that God sent his son Jesus and that my sin had been paid for by the grace of God, but I was living as though I had to be strong and earn my own salvation. This only lead to me failing to meet God’s perfect standards. Whenever I sinned or felt weak in a situation, it lead to me realising I was still relying on my own strength even after I knew Jesus' sacrifice was for me.
It was liberating to realise that my faith needed to be in God, because he is unchanging and the only way for me to be saved from sin. My righteousness doesn’t come from myself but from him.
Titus 3:3-5 says:
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
This helped me see that the way I feel at a particular moment does not mean God has no longer saved me, or that he has abandoned me. It means if I trust in him I am saved. Nothing can change what Jesus did when he died on the cross; he atoned for my sin and will stand in my place when I see the father. I can praise and follow God because he is good and and he gave himself up for me.