I didn’t grow up in a Christian family. My mum did take us to church when we were children but I had no concept of a relationship with God.
I do remember praying once when I was an adult. That was when a good friend was terminally ill with cancer. When she died shortly afterwards I lost all interest in the idea of a loving God. I was a typical girl about town in London – independent, decent job, good social life. I had no reason to think about God at that time.
Then one Saturday night I was slumped on the sofa watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire and a question came up on the Bible and I remember thinking I should be able to answer that question – I wasn’t a difficult question – and in a flash of inspiration I thought I’m going to put a Bible on the Christmas list this year to improve my general knowledge.
I was at work talking to a friend about how surprised my parents were at my request for a Bible for Christmas and my conversation was overheard by a colleague who I didn’t know at the time – but I had noticed her. She was quite a gentle temperament in comparison to some of the rest of us and she overheard me and she came up to me afterwards and said I’m a Christian, and that’s when she told me about a course called Christianity Explored - a chance to explore Christianity through Mark’s Gospel.
I thought, “No way am I doing a course like that.” Nobody I knew would consider doing something like that and I certainly wasn’t going to. So I was surprised to find myself turning up for the first lesson a short time afterwards. First impressions were good – great buzz in the room, lively people, good conversation, I loved the format of the course, but I thought, “well, I’ll just come along for one or two, and then I’ll walk away.” Actually I didn’t miss a single session. And overall I was just blown away by the figure of Jesus walking off the pages of Mark’s Gospel to me and really talking to me.
And I got to the end of the course. I had a lot of questions, but I wasn’t ready to become a Christian. I kept asking myself, “What is going to happen to me if I become Christian? Am I going to wake up as a transformed personality with a halo shining over my head? What about my lifestyle, my smoking, my drinking, what would my friends and family think of me?” I didn’t think that I was the kind of person that God would want to have as a Christian. But I did start to pray about it and I did go to church more frequently.
A few months later I fractured my knee in a skiing accident, which at the time I didn’t see as an answer to prayer! I was devastated I was off work for weeks, how was work going to be able to cope without me – how would I cope without work?!
But actually it was during that time that I had the solitude to reflect upon what I had learned. I listened to Bible talks on tape and I came to understand that I didn’t have to be good enough for God because Jesus had died for me, and that the Christian life is a journey. I would have the Holy Spirit in me working with me every step of the way and it was a fantastically liberating experience to understand that truth and I was still on crutches when I became Christian.