For many of you, even reading that provokes a whole array of feelings. Maybe it infuriates you, maybe even the name Jesus upsets you or maybe it makes you shout Amen! We’ve all heard it, we’ve all responded but have we all received it?
I want to tell you a story. It’s not just any story, it’s my story. You see, I was the wretch they sing about in amazing grace. I was so angry, so bitter, so filled with absolute hatred towards Christianity, God and everything to do with religion that I went to University to study Evolution to prove to my entire faith fuelled family that they were wrong about Jesus. But the problem wasn’t with them, it was with me.
My whole life has been one big mad drama! Whether it be one thing or another, I can not remember a time where my family has not known hardship, suffering or distress. As a result of this, I became very, very bitter. On the surface you wouldn’t have known anything because I had grown accustomed to wearing a smile to mask what was really going on inside. I was SO ANGRY at God and wanted nothing to do with Him or His church. I intentionally persecuted and bullied Christians at every opportunity and in some cases even teased them away from their Faith.
I was a heavy drinker, smoked 20-30 rollies a day, took a lot of drugs and indulged myself in everything the world had to offer me. I had everything I ever wanted, my dream job, my dream boyfriend, a brilliant degree, amazing friends and yet there was always something missing. I remember walking down the street and looking up to the sky and shouting
“There’s got to be more to life than this.”
I was at a party in Belfast on Easter Saturday 2012 and was, lets say, worse for wear. I went back to my friends house and trashed her flat in an angry fit of rage. The next day, she said “Danielle, You really scared me last night, I don’t know who you are anymore.”
Full of shame, guilt and condemnation, I waited for Mum to pick me up for Easter Sunday dinner. On the way home, hungover, still in the clothes from the night before and desperately needing a smoke, Mum spoke to me about how the Bible had the answer to every single question or problem I had ever had.
“How on earth could a book that was written by people over 2000 years ago have any sort of relevance in my life! Wise up!”
We argued for a while, well, I argued, mum just sat there while I shouted abuse at her. Ten minutes later, I stepped out of the car onto the driveway, and heard a voice that forever changed my life. The voice told me to give up something very dear to me, which I did without hesitation. I can’t explain why I actually did it, I just knew that I could not shake the sound of that voice.
For the next two days, I was crippled with panic attacks and fear. I hadn’t slept unaided for well over six months and was harbouring a long term addiction to a lethal concoction of prescription painkillers. I had nothing left to live for, I had nothing left to give. After a prolonged panic attack, I went out to have a smoke and Mum was talking to me about how God has the power to break the stronghold of fear in my life. I can’t really explain to you what happened in that moment, but I ‘seen red’ and dropped my cigarette and launched at my mum to kill her but something in me snapped and before I got to her, I fell on my knees, put my arms up in the air and said
“I need help Mum , I need Help! If you think Jesus can help me I don’t care what it takes mum I’ll do anything!”
So, she prayed the ‘sinners prayer’ with me and in my head I agreed and said Yes and Amen, but my heart questioned its sin and said ‘but I’m a good person.” I texted all of my friends because I knew If I didn’t, I would back out. My best friend phoned me straight away and said
“You used to be the type of person who could walk into a room filled with people dressed in the finest of clothes and you could walk in with your mad hair looking a state, but there would be something in you that would light up the room, but I don’t see that light in you anymore and if you think that Jesus is going to bring that light back to your eyes again, then I don’t care what it takes either Danielle, I’m right behind you”.
I went to bed that night with the weight of my sin upon my shoulders. I walked into my room heavy and burdened, reaching over to take my sleeping tablets to knock myself out. And as I reached over to take them, that very same voice spoke to me and said “You wont be needing those anymore.” Again, I didn’t question it, I just obeyed and as soon as my head hit the pillow at 11pm, I was out cold and woke up the next day at 2pm and my heart was singing! I jumped up, amazed and typed ‘Jesus” into Youtube, and clicked on the first song that came up called Rooftops by Jesus Culture. I had never heard that song before but somehow I knew every single word and it became the prayer of my heart. I cried out to God and for the first time in my life, I felt peace, perfect undiluted peace, and joy so deep that I thought my heart was going to explode and that same voice spoke to me and said “Today salvation has come to this household.” That was five years ago today and my life has never been the same again.
Jesus is not a religion, He is the greatest gift the world has ever known and He stands at the door of your life today offering His life in exchange for yours. You may be saying ‘but my life is worthless’ but to Him you are worth it all. You don’t have to understand it, you don’t need to be a good person, you just have to believe and receive Him into your heart. Life won’t be easy even when you do, I lost my life when I gave it to Jesus but I gained everything that the world could never give me and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.