Really joyfully I grew up in a Christian home, and because of what I knew and experienced in my family and my church family, from early in my life I was sure that God was real, and that he loved me. As I became a teenager, having other Christian friends my age really encouraged me to keep going to church, but God remained basically in a Sunday box. It wasn’t that I was ashamed or embarrassed or doubtful, but actually - in day to day life, it didn’t seem that God was that relevant.
When I was 15, I decided to get confirmed – choosing to make my own the affirmation of faith my parents had made for me when I was a baby. For me, this was a really confident, genuine and exciting public declaration of what I believed. I didn’t do it because I felt pressured, or because I felt like it would impress my friends, or my parents, or even God. But I did know that it was a good thing to do. And to be honest, I think I liked being good. Whether it was being known as polite and well behaved, or good at English, or having lots of friends, I really liked achieving and impressing, which made me feel good when I managed it, and gently crushed when I didn’t. And for me, that’s just the way I was. And so in this way, as well as many others, whilst I was affirming my faith, I still didn’t actually get how God was relevant every day. He was still in a bit of a Sunday box.
Over the next few years, as I went to sixth form and did a gap year, I met some wonderfully faithful Christians who were passionate about Jesus. Of course, I knew who Jesus was, and what he’d done – this wasn’t new information – but witnessing my friends lives and encountering Jesus afresh in the Bible transformed my understanding of why it mattered and what it meant. I remember looking at Jesus' crucifixion, particularly at the moment where Matthew says that as Jesus died, the curtain in the temple was torn in two, and I remember being completely amazed by what that meant – that by the death of the Jesus, the way to a holy and perfect God was thrown open. I think I’d always just assumed that I could obviously have a relationship with God, but I was realising that that was only possible by Jesus dying in my place. And knowing that began a process of change in my life and how I thought about myself. Because it’s just so good to know, even though it’s still hard to convince my brain of it some of the time, that the most important thing about me isn’t whether or not I’m managing to be successful or impressive, or to be a good person, but that Jesus loves me and knows me, that he forgives me and is making me new.
This wasn’t a thought shift that happened in an hour, but over a few years, as I began to see how knowing Jesus transforms all of life. That was about 5 or 6 years ago, and since then I have known great joy in living in Christ and with Him through the good bits and the struggles of everyday life. Since moving to Cambridge last summer, Mike and I have loved being part of Eden, partly because in the people we’ve got to know, it’s just been wonderfully obvious from how genuinely humble and caring they are, that they have died to themselves and are living in Christ. And so I’m really excited to be publicly saying that I’m with you in that death and new life and to become a full part of this family.