I always was an inquisitive child. I was always asking questions, most of which someone gave me some form of answer. But I can strongly remember stumbling across some questions no one had an answer to. I was still at primary school at the time, sitting on the bottom of the stairs at home, struggling to put my socks on, and pondering over this God person who I’d heard about. I was just confused at, if as some people claimed He’d created everything, what the universe was like beforehand. Just nothing. For a very long time. That childhood version of me may have called himself a Christian, but I didn’t know God very well, and I probably didn’t think anyone could.
I shortly forgot about my confusion over God and going to Sunday school I heard many stories from the Bible and learnt all the right answers to the teachers' questions. I learnt about the person of Jesus and how he’d died to save us from this thing Christians called sin. But any faith I had was confined to a Sunday and didn’t make a difference to my life.
Then in my mid-teens I started to read through the Bible for myself, outside of Church. I also started to ask a lot more questions about the Christian faith and was surprised to find a lot of the answers I received to be intellectually satisfying. What I read and heard matched with my experiences of the world, and other explanations people had for our existence or our purpose just didn’t seem to compare. I was now happy to call myself a Christian and my friends knew me as such. I lived differently, wanting to obey God’s laws. God helped to grow my character, giving me a little patience when I had none, and helping me to love people even when I could see no benefit to myself. I was far from perfect, but I was changing.
When I came to Uni and joined Eden and the Christian Union I was overwhelmed by the love of the people I met. They became such a family to me and I grew tremendously in my love for them and my love for God in my first year. I joined many other societies too and kept busy, rushing about during the day and working through the night. I was experiencing so much at Uni and cramming so much in that I felt no one could stop me.
However, this time last year I was just about to hit a term that would challenge me physically, emotionally and spiritually. It was a term where everything around me seemed to crumble. All academic standing, something I had prided myself upon for 19 years, looked non-existent. Close friendships seemed to be fading away and I was unable to exercise any sporting ability I had. Everything I had placed my identity in had virtually gone, and I felt like garbage. But the one thing I clung onto in that term, was that every week a Sunday would come by, and I would hear of the God who loved me regardless. I would hear of the God who was so strong that my weakness didn’t matter. I would hear of the God who sent His Son to die in my place, so that when He looked at me, He didn’t see a broken fumbling mess, but He saw His perfect Son, and He called me His child.
You see, I did find out an answer to my childhood question. God wasn’t alone before the beginning of time, He was in a loving relationship which we call the Trinity. He was pouring out love over His Son Jesus and His Son was loving Him back. And that is who I’ve learnt God to be, love. Radical, relentless, undeserved love. It would be easy to look around the world and see all the suffering and think that God doesn’t love us. But God actually became a man with the prime purpose of suffering, so that there will be a day when we don’t have to. Mark 10:45 says, ‘For the Son of Man [Jesus] came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.’ He took the punishment for every wrong we have done, so that we appear spotless before Him. Because of Jesus, if we accept Him, we can be fully known by God, and yet fully loved. Nothing to hide, nothing to prove, nothing to lose.