I grew up in a Christian home and I went to church and Sunday school every week. I loved this as I got see my friends, play games and eat sweets. We would learn different bible stories and I remember believing them all but didn’t really see how they related to my life.
As I grew up I considered myself to be a Christian although my life wasn’t really distinct in any way. I am naturally a very shy and self-conscious person and so I often found normal interactions with people difficult enough without making them harder by saying I was a Christian.
Around the age of 16/17 I really struggled with assurance. I remember listening to a podcast on the topic of examining your faith and thinking how on earth can I be sure about mine - what if I die and God is like ‘nope, you went about this in the wrong way, you didn’t say the right prayer or think the right thing’.
Then in October I came to Cambridge to study medicine - this was a massive turning point for me. I wanted to get involved with the CU and so before term started I went on the fresher’s getaway. Firstly I was amazed at the number of young Christians that I met. My home church is small and though I have made such great friends there, there are only 5 of us of around my age. Secondly I was just struck by the people that I met; their enthusiasm for the gospel and how natural they found talking about Jesus was something I had just never encountered before. In fact it made me feel uncomfortable because I just wasn’t like that.
Again this brought me back to wondering about my assurance. Though I loved my first term, I also struggled with not being as confident in my faith as others in the CU were. The first significant point was coming to a heart and not just head knowledge of Ephesians 2:8-9. ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.’ It took me up to that point to really grasp that even my ability to believe was not from myself and therefore I did not have to worry about assurance because no part of my faith is because of what I have done, but solely what God has done for me.
For various reasons, Lent term was a difficult time for me, but God used it to show me that the things I found my security in, though good things in themselves, were not going to be the same forever. Realising that I could not cope on my own has made me so much more reliant on Him and doing things in his strength. Seeing how God was in control even in those times has given me a peace that is independent of my situation.
Looking back over this academic year I am just amazed at what God has done in my life. I am now a college rep, which to me in October would have been inconceivable. My confidence in my identity in Christ has grown massively and continues to transform the way that I approach the use of my time, my academic work and the relationships I have with people. Though I’m still pretty shy I now want to people to know what Jesus has done in my life and so that’s why I’m standing here today.