Brought up in a Christian home, I was used to attending church at the Gospel Hall in Cwmbran. We went three times on a Sunday, twice in the week for children’s meetings as well as prayer and Bible readings as I got older. We also visited other places of worship for Saturday night ministry meetings and various gospel tent campaigns across the valleys.
The majority of my family, my parents, sister, uncles, aunts and cousins are believers so the Christian influence in my family has been a big one. I learned the children’s choruses, the Bible stories and Bible verses. I was taught the truth about being a sinner who needed salvation. Basically, I had every opportunity to know the Lord for myself and be saved. So, what went wrong?
Seeking pleasure but finding none
As I grew into my teens, my priorities were football and cars. I mixed with new friends at school and started a life of seeking pleasure. I was a bit of a clown at times. When I was around 17, I stopped going to church and I chased the bright lights of all that the world offered. There were a lot of ‘car crashes’ and crazy things happened. Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t get into trouble but sin led me deeper and deeper into the mire. I was seeking more pleasure at the cost of everything yet I still felt empty the day after.
Then there were the lies to cover up my various misdemeanours. In his song, The Farmer’s Almanac, Johnny Cash said, ‘Lies have to be covered up but the truth can run around naked.’ To be a liar you have to have a very good memory and I failed at that too. There I was, running around trying to cover things up and tying myself in knots. I kept my family out of certain parts of my life because I didn’t want to hurt them. A good friend once told me that I had two lives, one with my mates and one with my family.
As I got older, life slowed down a bit but I never gave up the opportunity to chase life’s pleasures when the chance arose. I fumbled around from job to job, never satisfied. Aged 39, I left Wales and ended up working in Lancashire. My life was ok by the world’s standards, but when judged by God’s standard I was lost.
Afraid of my future
During the Covid pandemic I moved back to the family home. Without my work computer I had time to think. Funny things started to happen. Whilst painting in the garden I would start humming and singing hymns, hymns I hadn’t even thought of for 30 years. I started to remember the teaching and preaching I had had as a youngster. A fear of God came upon me in the light of my sinful life. I started listening to sermons and hymn singing on the internet. As I listened I was cast further under the cloud of my sin.
One Friday morning in October, I was working from home and had started work around 6:30am. By 7:30am I was in tears, paralysed with the fear of a lost eternity. I phoned a godly man, an old friend of my dad’s for help. He advised me to read Romans 10 and he put me in touch with Darran Dowey, a local minister.
The first time Darran met me I was sitting in his garden, a gibbering wreck! We talked and prayed. Darran pointed me in the right direction, gave me some tracts and I attended a place of worship for the first time in years.
Free from my burden
With God’s help, I read through the ten commandments and understood that they were not just something for the Old Testament but they were relevant for today. God opened my eyes and helped me to see how bad my life of sin was and how far away from him I was. I knew I was a sinner who needed a Saviour.
I then read Isaiah 53, reading this chapter again and again in tears. Instead of reading the words ‘our’, I read ‘my’ making the verses personal to me. I researched crucifixion and I saw what a horrible, evil humiliation it was, absolutely awful.
That was it, I didn’t need to read any more, a lightbulb went on in my head and I finally got it. At this point I knelt down and prayed for forgiveness for my sins. In that moment I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders and actually looked around in bewilderment at what I felt. It was as if someone was in the room with me. I prayed and thanked God for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for my sins.
My life changed instantly. My outlook, attitudes and desires were all different, but looking back this wasn’t something that just happened in October 2020. God had already been working in my life although I didn’t realise it at the time. I started a new job in 2009 and seeing young people who were so much better than me was hurting my pride and ‘know it all nature’ and my desire for the idols which I once held dear was dimming rapidly.
A new life
This was nearly three years ago. The Bible says, ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new’ (2 Cor. 5:17).
I thank God for his grace and mercy to an unworthy sinner like me. Meeting with God’s people, learning more about Jesus, serving him and witnessing to friends about my new life in Christ is what matters now. God has been good to me and has also given me a wife to help me in my walk with him. I thank God for all the people who have prayed for me over the last 50 years; for the words and hymns sown many years ago by faithful preachers and Sunday school teachers. I would encourage you to keep praying for family members who don’t know Jesus yet. God answers prayer.