I had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home. I made my first commitment when I was nine, although it wasn’t until I was twelve or thirteen that I finally began to understand the Bible’s message of grace – that God accepted me freely because of Jesus’s sacrifice, and so I didn’t need to earn my way into God’s favour. This was a real liberation for me.
I was a Christian throughout my teenage years, but I struggled to find my identity and self-esteem in Jesus, preferring instead to trust in my academic performance. Aged 19 I was struck down by chronic fatigue, and was bed-ridden for three months, too weak to stand up for more than an hour or so – leading to an intriguing Oxford interview when I failed to locate the door on the way out! (I didn’t get in to that college….) Though I am now free from this condition, God was always there supporting me, being my rock and defender, and gently reminding me through the Bible that career and academic prowess were secondary compared to the adventure of following him. I don’t think I would have got through my undergraduate degree had not been for the hope that He provided.
After a Master’s and a challenging but greatly maturing year working for St Ebbe’s, I embarked on a doctorate (I have now been in Oxford for far too long)– only to hear in January 2010, that my father had died. This was an enormous shock – he was sixty, and it was twenty-four hours between diagnosis and death. This was a very dark time, and still something I haven’t entirely processed yet, but I can still testify to God’s incredible patience and comfort through it all – and His provision of awesome Christian friends, who were a real life-line. Because of His love for me I’ve been able to keep going in a way that would otherwise have been impossible. The hope of heaven makes real difference in this kind of situation.
In summary: trusting Jesus was the best decision I ever made. Watch this space.