When we look back at Christmas 2020, what memories will we have? Ones of isolation and loneliness. At a time when social connection and support is so vital for relationships and mental wellbeing, where can you find help? Have you experienced loss or trials, with uncertainty still ahead which is causing anxiety? These are just some of the challenging situations we may all find ourselves in during these unprecedented times.
If I can encourage you to read on, I would like to walk you through my life journey and how, like me, you can find certainty of hope and strength through the darkest and toughest of realities that life can and does throw at us.
When I was younger (and knew everything!), I tried to find my identity, purpose and direction in sport (competing nationally), in self-gratifying relationships that never lasted and, in my education/career. However, its gratifications were fleeting, did not fulfil my inner desires and only left more dissatisfaction and disconnection.
At this stage, I flirted with the concept of an all-powerful being to see what was in it for me; not the best way to find God! I once prayed ‘God if you’re real, do not let me go.’ Even if God was real, I still thought my plans were best, and letting him into my life would only restrict what I could achieve on my own. How wrong I was?!
‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ Romans 5:8
17 years ago, I am thankful to say that God did not ‘let me go’, by convicting me lovingly of my poor lifestyle choices and using a Christian friend to gently show me that I was not on a good path in life. My friend helped me to start attending a church and the bible became exciting and life changing (big surprise for a book allergic dyslexic!). At this time, I also met up with a Christian Union staff worker who walked me through the good news about Jesus Christ’s and what it meant for me. One meeting I recall vividly, we were sat in a Café and I admitted my poor life choices firstly to myself and ultimately to God, I then proceeded to put my head in my hands and tears started rolling down my face, the relief these simple but powerful truths of the gospel brought was like nothing I had ever felt.
‘Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.’ Acts 13:38.
Since then, I have wanted to learn as much as I can, attending church, work for one, studying theology, helping to welcome others, teaching youth and telling others, like yourself! The more understanding I have gained, the more purpose and certainty my life has had even through the most difficult times.
During Covid-19, as a family, we have not been able to meet other family, the NHS told me to self-isolated due to my health issues, children have missed school and friends, taken pay cuts, my wife has been made redundant and we lost a family member. Even at the point of writing this, we are having to endure the hardest family crisis we have ever been through, without wanting to say too much! How do you survive this, find the strength and look forward with positivity, without putting your trust in an all loving, powerful and knowing God, who promises to never let you down? He has not yet!
If you want to think more about what Christmas should mean, and how to trust in Jesus, we have two resources that might help. The first is a 'help yourself' resource called The Four Points. On this website you can listen to four short videos which tell you more about how to come to know Jesus as your saviour. The second is a course you can join - The Alpha Course. It's being run on ZOOM and there will be many others there too.