A testimony: Xander
Christians are judgemental and deluded. They all share some joint hallucination and while it clearly gives them something to live for, I want nothing to do with it.
Or so I thought.
I always think that staunch atheists are more likely to come to know Jesus Christ than those people who just don't care. Thankfully, I always believed that the question "is there a God" was the most important question out there. Even more thankfully, I have now realised the answer is yes.
Firstly, I'd like to point out that this revelation was not due to any theological prowess or powers of deduction; rather God revealed Himself to me despite my stubborn, prideful nature. And a lot of people were praying for me to find God... a lot of people.
So where do we start? I was fourteen years old and best described as agnostic. I saw that it was important to know whether God existed, but thought that He probably didn't. I had already started reading through a Gideons' New Testament and was reasonably well-versed in Christian doctrine for a fourteen year-old. My family did not see God as relevant to life but would nominally call themselves Christian.
A Christian friend of mine called Tim asked me to join him on a week-long sailing holiday in the Norfolk Broads, called Mallards: "It's brilliant fun, you'll really enjoy it... oh, and yeah, there's a bible study and prayer group every evening." The look of surprise on Tim's face showed that he never thought I'd actually agree to come.
So, I went along sailing. Tim was right, I did really enjoy it. The sailing was amazing fun, and the people were kind and welcoming. But the Bible study was also interesting. This Jesus character seemed familiar from school assemblies. I realised that I could do worse than to listen to Jesus' lessons. I liked Him as a moral teacher: love your neighbour, give to the poor, turn the other cheek. Why not?
So I went back the next year. And the next, and two more years after that. In total, I spent five weeks sailing around the Norfolk Broads with a group of Christians, talking about Jesus. And I still wasn't a Christian. What I found really annoying was that I wanted to be a Christian by this point. I could see that my friends' faith was clearly changing them and was an amazing force for good in their lives. I had decided that from a purely academic viewpoint, I had no objections to Christianity. But there was no real, personal reason for faith in "God".
So I did what I'm sure many others in my situation have done. Every year I came along, enjoyed myself and felt I was missing out on something amazing. I would, perhaps once every sailing trip, sit and pray "God, if you're there, please give me a sign". God always seemed to be rather quiet.
So, after five years of frustration, I finally sat down and prayed a few days after the holiday. I prayed the Lord's prayer, which I knew by rote from school. And all of a sudden, I felt God. An unmistakable feeling. At once I knew that this was not something internal, some trick of the mind or hallucination. This was a wave of all-encompassing peace and security. This was the God I had been searching for. And hadn't He taken His own sweet time about it!
So that's me. That happened three years ago. I'm still cynical and still do far too many things which God would rather I didn't. But I'm saved by the blood of Jesus. And I am trying to live my life for Him. Unfortunately I far-too-often fall short of being the man Jesus wants me to be, but that's the beauty of following Him: despite my weaknesses and failings, Jesus loves me and suffered and died for me. When I screw up, He comforts me and forgives me.
For anyone who is wanting to know Jesus but feels they're missing something, I'd encourage you to keep trying to know Him. It took me five years but it was definitely worth it! God tells us that those who look for Him will find Him:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
Pray, read the Bible, talk to Christian friends. But God is out there and He knows you, even if you don't yet know Him.
For anyone who is worried about friends or family who don't yet know Jesus, then don't worry. It is in God's hands, and He can reveal Himself to them far better than we can. Pray for their salvation and be open to the Spirit leading you. Love your friends and share your lives with them, being open not only about how God is changing you for the better, but share your struggles and your failings.
And if you want to go sailing, it's epic fun...