Laura

In my early years of childhood, me and my siblings used to visit my great Nan on Sundays. I believe she was a Catholic. She would have a Bible in her home, and I remember her saying to me, “You must read the Bible!” But at the age I was, I didn’t really take any notice. I remember enjoying being read the story of Moses, the people in Egypt, and the 10 plagues God unleashed on the Egyptians. She told me that there is a God and that he sent Jesus to die on the cross. I’d always believed this but I was never told what it truly meant.

As we grew older, we eventually stopped visiting my Nan and by the time I was 9 or 10, that was it. I never thought about God or read any stories again until we moved to Sonning Common around 2014.

Being new into the village we were always looking for new toddler groups to attend to make new friends. We attended one regularly on a Wednesday for a while, but soon my youngest daughter (Araya) was too old for the group, so we needed to find another. One morning, I overhead a Mum talking about a group called Mainly Music, which ran on a Friday morning. I was intrigued to find out more so I said to myself, ‘we will go along!’ So, we went, and that’s where it all started.

 it all started at Mainly Music 

Week after week we would attend, finding out more and more about God each time. Miriam, the leader of Mainly Music invited me to come along to church on a Sunday afternoon. I went, and at first I found it a little overwhelming, and in all honesty, a bit ‘boring!’ I couldn’t really understand what Bruce (the pastor) was saying, but I kept attending anyway and having regular Bible studies at my home with Miriam.

One Monday, I was attending a Monday Mums Bible study and was learning about the parable of the lost son. Some of you are already familiar with it but for those who are not, it’s about a man who had two sons. The younger son demanded his share of his father’s estate, so his father divided his property between them and gave the younger son his share. So, the younger son took the money and off he went, living a wild life. After he spent everything he had, he soon realised he felt lonely and empty.

After learning about this story, I went away not thinking much of it until I attended a friend’s wedding. The groom stood up during the service and read out the story. I remember thinking, ‘I know this!’ I had to double check with Miriam, who was sat next to me! But again, I thought it was a nice story but didn’t think much of it.

Until (wait for it) I heard the same story again in church on a Sunday afternoon! I knew instantly that God was speaking to me! Now others may say that’s just by chance, but I believe He was telling me to stop running from Him, to stop finding pleasure in other things and to turn to Him.

I remember feeling awful and realising just how bad I was and just how much of a sinner I was. I thought to myself, I no longer want to live for myself, I want to live for God. So, I prayed to Him, and I asked Him to save me from my sins and forgive me, to give me everlasting life and a relationship with Him.

Now going back to the end of the story of the lost son, once his money and his happiness had ran out he was left with nothing. So, he hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to feed the pigs in the field. He longed to eat the pods that the pigs were eating but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he set off to go back to his father.

He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him

He was a long way off in the distance from reaching his father’s home, but his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son confessed that he had sinned against him but the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Fetch him the best robes, put a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet, bring the fattened calf and let’s have a feast! For this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he was lost and now is found!’

The father in this story is exactly like Jesus, for we have everything, and yet still do terrible things, in the eyes of Jesus. God has given us all good things in this world, but we throw it back in His face with the way we treat Him and ignore Him. Despite us messing up and getting things wrong, He still chooses to love us and still wants the absolute best for us. He gives us everything that we may possibly need, even though none of us deserve it.

You don’t need to earn Jesus’ love, it is a free gift to anyone who trusts in Him, because God’s love is free! You cannot pay for it or earn it. You need only recognise that you mess up every day, that you need God to forgive you and open your hands to receive His forgiveness and mercy.

I thank Jesus every day for what he’s done for me. It has been truly life changing. l don’t worry about things anymore, because I know that God looks after me and will always help me with any problems I may have.