I first came to know the Lord when I was 14; I didn’t grow up going to church and don’t come from a Christian family, but I came to learn about God and his love for me through the blessing of a few Christian friends and my secondary school’s Scripture Union – before this I had only a very superficial idea of who God was, believing that he existed but not really questioning why or what it had to do with me.

I remember being incredibly shocked when I fully came to understand the purpose of the cross – that Jesus died for me, a sinner, so that I could have a full and complete relationship with my creator and first love – it just felt like something I had so desperately been missing all my life. However, although I would say that I first gave my life to God when I was 14, it wasn’t till a few years later that I really started to live for him. This was due to a number of things; however, the main reason was that around age 15 I started to suffer quite badly from depression – it took over my life and quite literally stole the joy from within me. I lost all hope that I had - I grew to hate myself, hate my life and honestly got to the point where I felt that living wasn’t worth it anymore. I was in so much pain, and I just couldn’t understand how a God who was meant to be so loving could allow me to feel this way, so I turned away from him and turned to other things instead, hoping they could heal the hurt that was inside of me.

But unbeknownst to me at the time, God was right there beside me through it all, carrying me when I didn’t have the strength to keep going and loving me even when I couldn’t love myself. I love the description God gives us of himself in the Bible, in that he is love – it is not a verb, an action he can choose to perform or not perform, it is a constant, permanent, unchanging state of being – God, as love, is always around us, encompassing us even when we sometimes can’t see it ourselves. It took me about four years, the help of some great friends and a car accident – ask me about that one later – to realise this, but God was patient, loving me all the while.

And within the last year or so I have grown so much in my faith and have recovered in a way that I previously didn’t believe I ever would - I didn’t know it was possible to be as happy as I am now, and it is happiness that is rooted firmly in the Lord, in him who is love and who loved me so much that he died a horrible, humiliating death that I deserved, so that I wouldn’t have to.

So that’s why I have decided to get baptised today, in honour of the commandment of the Lord and as an outward sign of my dedication to him. Jesus gave his perfect life for my sinful one, and so today I declare publically that my life is his, and that I want to honour and glorify him in all that I do. To finish I would like to read a short prayer that I wrote in March of last year, when things in my life really started to turn around for the better, as I feel it really sums up all that I want to express today:

“Lord, I am just in complete awe of your presence and all your greatness. I really feel like I’ve found my place, Lord, where I fit into the puzzle. And it’s with you. God, I just want to fully live out your amazing plans for me. I am so loved, I was created by love and I am called to love. Please Lord, fill me with your Spirit and take me to where you need me to go. I am truly, completely, 100% yours.”