I wrote this recently for someone who asked me to tell them what happened when I became a Christian, what was it like, that change, and why. It’s short, because brevity was what was called for there, although I now wish I’d saved a longer version to share here with you now. I hope you enjoy it. And please, if you feel like it, share your own stories here too.
If I knew one thing at sixteen it was that I was sick of being alone. My whole self hurt, and what hurt the deepest was isolation. I didn’t want to pretend that I was okay any more. I was far from okay, and I needed someone to hear me.
A friend took me to see a Camp Counsellor, who asked me to say a prayer I didn’t understand. I repeated something after her, asking Jesus to be the boss of me and telling God I was sorry for the stuff I’d done wrong. She smiled, as if everything was okay now. I shut my eyes against the disappointment and wondered why I should be sorry.
Something did change, but I felt worse, not better. The next day I woke to feel the dark deadweight wreck of my life resting on me like a coat I couldn’t shake off. I bawled snotty tears and let words tumble out from inside of me, a measly offering to a God I didn’t know cared, of all the aloneness I carried, and how sorry I was for for every stupid thing I’d done. I felt ashamed, and it terrified me.
Then the miracle happened.
Suddenly in front of me I saw a vision of a sky dark with clouds, and a cross, and there was a man in white robes reaching out to me. It was Him, Jesus, with me.
I stretched out my arms and told him He could have it all, my stupid sodden mess of a life, that if He wanted me I would be His, and, just like that, He took it. I didn’t feel it any more. I didn’t feel the shame in my mind, the hurt or the aloneness or the darkness or the fear. Where there had been just me, now there was me and Him, and nothing else mattered. Now I was found. Now I was wanted. Now I was rescued. Now I was loved.
The presence of Jesus stayed with me that day and the next, the way you sense someone’s presence in a room even with your eyes closed, and through that day and the next the relief spread tangibly throughout my body. I told my friend and she got out her Bible and showed me Matthew 28:20, and it was there for me, in black and white, a promise written that I could claim as mine: Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Now as an adult, if I know one thing, it’s that no matter what my circumstances tell me I’m never alone, and when darkness looms and threatens there, still, is Jesus.