I was born and brought up by my mother and father along with my younger brother in the town of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. Although we were well aware of God and the church we were not a Christian family. When we were young my mother decided it would be good for us to go to church and Sunday school. I had other ideas and I soon decided to go my own way, I did not like Sunday school and thought it would be better to bunk off and keep the collection money for myself. The only problem was I had to take my younger brother along too and my mother soon found out. She was disappointed but did not force us to go back to Sunday school and that is when I first turned my back on God.
By the age of 14 I had started drinking alcohol and dabbling in solvent abuse and had tried cannabis. By the age of 19 not much had changed except I had progressed to trying harder drugs. It was when I was 19 that my world fell apart. My mother was rushed to hospital with a bleed on the brain and she died just over a week later. She had been the centre of our home and our lives and was now gone. Where could I go now for comfort and guidance, to God? No but the life I was already living and my friends. Just a week after my mother’s death I had a phone call telling me that a friend and workmate had been killed in a motorcycle accident. With all the loss and pain I was feeling and questions I wanted answering I still would not turn to God but kept on the path I was walking.
Three years later I found myself in a hospital bed after a bad motorcycle accident, lucky to be alive and to still have my leg. In the hospital that day I felt broken but grateful and I prayed to God, probably the first meaningful prayer I ever had thanking Him for saving my life. Did I keep on praying? No, but went back to the same old way of life. In 3 years I had lost my mother, a good friend, all my worldly processions and was staying in a spare room in my Aunts house. By this time I had met a girl who was a stabling influence on me and was later to become my wife.
Things got better. I found a stable job and had plans to get married. However my girlfriend said if we were going to get married we would have to start going to church. I had not been to church for many years apart from attending funerals or weddings but I made an effort and started going. Something started speaking to me through the preaching and I had a desire to go to church and I even started reading the Bible. I did not understand much of it, however I liked reading about Jesus in the Gospels.
My girlfriend Cathy and I got married and I continued going to church, taking my Granny with me which was a great excuse if anyone asked why I was going. I was however still living a double life, going out at weekends drinking heavily, memory loss, regret, and a huge emptiness that I never had before. I still kept going to church and God was drawing me and I felt I wanted to become a Christian but had many questions, I wondered where Jesus fitted into it all. I knew he was the Son of God but did not know why He had to die on the cross for me.
Things were going well, I had a good wife, steady job and did not drink or do drugs to the same extent. I felt I was in control. Yes, I would like to be a Christian but maybe when I was older. On my birthday and Cathy and I decided on a night out. At the end of the evening I felt sober and thought I had proved to myself I was in control. However it was not the end of the night, we carried on to a party where I took more drink along with drugs and ended up having a fight with my own brother. I woke the following morning with no recollection of the event but I knew something had happened by how upset my wife was. I was not in control after all and I knew I needed help.
I had many late nights watching the TV then one night a programme came on called Alpha course. It was about ordinary people wanting to find out more about the Christian faith. I enjoyed it and prayed to God asking Him that if something like this came along I would go. A week later a Christian friend phoned me and said that a meeting called Christianity Explored was starting up in his church and asked me to come along. It sounded that close to the Alpha course that I knew my prayers had been answered. I was excited but scared. God was real and had answered my prayer.
God tells us in the gospel of Luke 13:24 “strive to enter through the narrow door.” I really had to strive to go to that meeting praying to God as I went. By God’s grace I went in and was surprised to see people just like me. One thing that drove me to the meeting was that I knew God’s Spirit had been striving with me in my life but I also knew that the Bible says that He will not always strive with man and in Luke 13 it talks about a man who had a fig tree planted in a vineyard and he came seeking fruit on it and found none and said to the vinedresser cut it down, why should it use up the ground? I felt as if God was the One coming to see if there was any fruit on me in the times in my life that I could have turned to Him – Sunday school, my mother’s death, my friend’s death, when I had my motorbike accident and on many other occasions that He could have cut me down and He had not. Was this my last chance? I kept going to the meetings and had many questions.
One question was answered that night. It was the main one. “Why did Jesus have to die for me?” I knew that I was a sinner, I knew Jesus was righteous, I knew God’s eyes were so pure that He could not look upon sin, but that night my eyes were opened, the minister explained it very simply. The verse of scripture he used is in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. From that moment I had come to know and believe the love that God has for me, and I knew I had to put my trust in Jesus and what He had done for me. I knew I had changed and had a peace that I had never had before, and a joy that I had never had before, along with a love for Jesus that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end just at the sound of His name.
At the next meeting I professed my faith in the Lord. That was 7 years ago. Since I came to know my Lord and Saviour there have been many ups and downs but He has never let me down, He has kept me and never left me, He has been that Friend that sticks closer than any brother. It hurts when I think of all the times in my life that He was knocking at the door of my heart and I kept Him out. I thank the Lord for His patience, mercy and grace and I pray that when He knocks at the door of your heart that you would not shut Him outside but ask Him in.