Heidi’s Story

Heidi’s Story

I grew up in a loving family where both parents were Christians and taught me about their faith. I went to church every Sunday and attended Sunday School. To me, Sunday was a very different, ‘religious’ day. Going to church was as routine for me as going to school was. I used to get embarrassed when I had friends around and my Dad said ‘grace’ before meals, especially as most of my friends would have already started eating! I also thought it was unfair that I couldn’t go to parties on a Sunday or have sleepovers on a Saturday night.

However, it was clear to me how important my parents’ faith was to them, although I felt it was something grown-ups did and I was too young to bother about it. I don’t think I was ever very rebellious, as those of you who know me could imagine! I just wanted to have fun and not get bogged down by talk of ‘sin’.

The first time I can remember seriously considering my sinful state before a holy God was at my grandfather’s funeral. At the age of ten, this was the first time in my life someone closely related to me had died. On the order of service were written the words, ‘Forever with the Lord’. I knew I couldn’t say for certain that if I died, I would go to heaven, and that troubled me. It was mainly because I was scared of dying, rather than being aware of my sin that would sink me to hell. I quickly resumed my normal life and soon forgot the uncomfortable feelings I’d had.

The second ‘stop and think’ moment came during a summer youth camp I went on in 2002. This was a week away from home, camping with other children my age. Each evening, the good news about Jesus was shared with us  and seemed very clear and easy to understand compared to what I was used to hearing at church. There was no denying that I was a sinner, destined for hell and that God was reaching out His hand to save me. I felt like I wanted to change and be a ‘good person’ but chose to reject this offer. I enjoyed my life and didn’t want God, my creator and sustainer, to interfere!

Another unremarkable year passed. I then went on my second summer youth camp. Once again, I felt uncomfortable hearing how God had sent His son to die to take the punishment which I deserved for rejecting Him and living my own way. On the last day of camp, we went to Eastbourne beach to watch an Air Show. That morning we had been told how uncertain life is and how no one knows when their time is up. During the Air Show, the planes were performing all sorts of dives and soaring back up into the sky. One pilot, misjudged a dive and the plane’s engine didn’t have the power to swoop back up, so it crashed into the sea causing the plane to explode. The pilot’s time was up. That evening we were read a verse from the Bible: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’. God was offering me another chance to accept His offer of salvation and forgiveness. Would I reject Him again? That night I couldn’t sleep. I was scared incase my time was also up and wondered whether I had missed my chance. I prayed to God earnestly asking Him to forgive me for ignoring Him and living for myself. I claimed two promises in the Bible which say ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ and ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’. I genuinely felt free and at peace. As soon as I got home from camp, I asked to be baptised. Being baptised is an outward sign, showing people the work that God has done in my life.

I remember my sister writing in a letter that she was praying for me to be kept safe from the Devil. She said the Devil would try to attack my faith as I openly told people about Jesus. Sure enough, three months after my baptism, a massive attack came and my life seemed to fall apart. As much as I’d like to forget it, I think it’s important to acknowledge it happened. I didn’t blame God for what had happened but I didn’t run to Him for refuge from this storm in my life. God hadn’t made a mistake, he hadn’t lost control of my life, he wasn’t unkind in allowing this to happen. I still don’t understand why this event happened but I know and trust that ‘all things work together for good, for those who love God and are called by Him’. A year passed by in a blur. I continued to go to church but my faith didn’t feel real. Suddenly, what I was hearing at church was as if God was speaking just to me about my exact situation. I was reminded how God was faithful and was carrying me through this difficult time. Thankfully, God re-kindled my faith and I began to find my identity in Christ, not in what had just happened. Once again, I felt safe and secure. ‘With Jesus in the boat, we can smile at the storm’ is a line from a well-known hymn and a truth I now knew. Another verse from a hymn by Helen H. Lemmel became very dear to me,

 

‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.’

 

Since then, I am very thankful to say that despite many more hard times, my God has been with me and the more I learn about Him and His love for me, the more I am amazed that I can call Him my heavenly Father.

 

Written by: Heidi Webster, member of St. Mellons Baptist Church

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