You are good and what you do is good; teach me your decrees Psalm 119:68
My plane touched down in Scotland on a dull, grey, January day and I felt miserable. I had just spent what, at that time, had been the happiest month of my life in the USA. Now, back in Scotland, everything I cared about was thousands of miles away.
It had all begun more than a year earlier when I started university. I was going to St Andrews to study and one of the first people I met was an American girl who was in Scotland to study for the year. What happened was that we started seeing one another regularly and fell in love. Most of that year we were together. At the end of the summer she had to return to the States to complete her studies, but, by this time, we were very serious and wanted to spend our lives together and so we were confident that we would be seeing one another again come Christmas. As it turned out, instead of her coming back to Scotland, her father offered to pay for me to spend Christmas in their home. I accepted and it was wonderful.
Now, back in Scotland, the thought of being apart until the summer was painful and I felt very alone. I tried to do some studying in the university library, but my mind was on the other side of the Atlantic. So I packed up my books and went back to the residence where I was staying. I wanted company, so I went to the common room where some guys were together, chatting. I found it interesting when the conversation became about people's views of what heaven is like. Some people have unorthodox ideas!
Anyway, I didn't think too much about it until the next day when one of these students knocked on my room door. When I answered, he reminded me of the conversation and gave me a card inviting me to a meeting of the university Christian Union where there was to be a talk entitled, “What is a Christian?” I took the card, but had no intention of going along. I was feeling low and lonely and most certainly did not want to be pursued by people I considered to be “religious fanatics”.
Nevertheless, when the day came, I found myself making my way to the meeting with a couple of Christians. I didn't want to be there and felt very uncomfortable. When the speaker started his talk, for the first time in my life I heard the gospel of Jesus Christ presented in a way which really challenged me. The fact was that I had been in church on Sundays most of my life. I believed there was a God and so I concluded that I was a Christian. However the speaker made it clear he believed a Christian is someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus.
Now I was in a really awkward position. I was already feeling low and now I was faced with the possibility that I might be on my way to hell. There was a battle going on inside of me. One voice was saying that I tried to be a good, moral person and that I was ok. Another voice was saying, “But what if what the speaker said is correct?” I knew for sure that I did not have a personal relationship with God.
I was really challenged by this and wrestled with the issue internally. Then I had an idea. I had always had a respect for the bible, so I decided I would try to find out what it said about a relationship with Jesus. I knew someone who had a bible and actually read it regularly, so I went to ask if I could borrow it. He agreed and I went back to my room where I read all of Matthew's gospel. I still hadn't found the answer to my dilemma. I thought maybe Mark's gospel would tell me, so I kept on reading.
Shortly after this, the student who had lent me his bible came to see how I was getting on. I tried to explain the battle that was going on inside me. He listened and something he said caused me to break down in tears. Sensitively, he made no attempt to push me into making a decision, but rather got up and withdrew from the room.
However, by this time I knew I had to make a decision. I felt as if I was being torn apart. The speaker at the meeting had given me a gospel tract and, at the end, there was a prayer for anyone who wanted to have a relationship with Jesus. I got down on my knees and surrendered my life to God. I didn't hear angels singing or feel anything special. However that night I slept soundly for the first time since my return from the States.
And so began my relationship with Jesus who came to earth to be the Saviour of the world. My Christian life had begun, but there was so much I did not yet know or understand. Now, many years later, knowing the love of God and his nature which is good, kind and forgiving, it seems strange that I should have been so hesitant to get to know him --- his love, his forgiveness.
The amazing thing is that Jesus didn't come for “religious people”, or “good people”, or “special people”. He came for anyone who is willing to accept his gracious offer of love, forgiveness, and eternal life. And when we begin that relationship with him, our heart changes and our desires change as we live our lives following the one who truly loves us and wants to be our best friend.