I come from a Greek Orthodox Christian background, although this personally meant nothing to me, as in the Greek community you cannot separate culture from faith. From the age of fifteen I had a great desire to know truth and if there was one true God then I wanted to find Him. I often thought about the reason for living: was it merely to get married, have children, get old and then die? Was it just to gain success or wealth? Was there a life beyond death, and if there was, where would I go - heaven or hell?
Unfortunately I met an elderly lady who introduced me to the occult. I started attending spiritualist meetings where via a medium they would give you messages from the dead. It all seemed so realistic and true. I thought this was real Christianity as it gave a real spiritual dimension which I had not found to exist in the Christian church I had attended. She taught me the philosophy of eastern mysticism which is basically a belief that we can all become one with God, that is that we can become god. This can only be achieved through many reincarnations and this process of perfection can be accelerated on acquiring hidden (occult) knowledge. I started delving deeper into the occult. I read countless books on mediumship, spiritualism, star signs and tarot cards. I had my palms read, practised yoga and meditation, visited mediums, psychics, and even experimented using hallucinogenic drugs.
The more I practised this religion the more empty I became. I realise now that there is an evil power in the occult that puts you into spiritual bondage and darkness. I also became increasingly immoral in my life style. In my heart was such loneliness, guilt for the things I had done wrong in the past, and a great fear of death. I certainly had an awareness of my sinfulness, and I instinctively knew that the lifestyle I was living was going to lead to my destruction yet I could do nothing to change it.
I continued to take on board every aspect of 'open belief' (ie believing all things and accepting all things without questioning). As years passed by I grew more and more frustrated with all these different teachings. God seemed so far away and impossible to reach, and I felt so imperfect that the thought of me never being able to reach God made me despair. Suicide was an option I considered but I was too fearful of pain. I used to read the Bible, but I regarded Jesus Christ to be no more than a great man and believed that all religions led to God. I only accepted those of his teachings which I believed, and rejected those which I did not want to accept. Yet it was the claims of his authority and the great signs and power that he demonstrated (as recorded in the Holy Bible) that left me with a conviction of Jesus being God, although I was not prepared at that stage to acknowledge him and to have my lifestyle changed. His promise after he was resurrected that he would return to save those that believe and trust in him and also to judge the world in righteousness frightened me immensely, for I feared Jesus and the judgment of an eternal hell. For some reason I was constantly drawn back to the Bible and read it often.
The more I started to question Jesus, the more I began to realise that he was my only answer. Many times before I called on Jesus' name to help me but all to no avail. I prayed often but my prayers were never answered. I honestly thought that there was no power in Jesus since nothing happened when I called him, yet I now know that those times when I called on him to help me, I was not prepared to repent from my old way of life, and to trust and follow Jesus Christ. It got to the point where I was questioning Christianity more seriously and started attending a local evangelical Christian church. I began to realise that God loved me and showed his love by sending Jesus Christ his Son into the world to die for me (and for the whole world), so that I could be forgiven and saved from all my sins, and have everlasting life now as well as in heaven. This revelation of God to me was something quite wonderful - that I could know this holy personal God, and that I could have peace with God was something I had never envisaged. I do not remember the exact day when I became a Christian. I said a prayer in church and asked Jesus to forgive me for all my sins, and for him to change my life.
On that day the greatest event in my life happened. It was not a dramatic conversion with thunder and lighting, but a simple reassurance that all my sin was removed and forgiven forever. I knew that I was totally free from my past and all my guilt and fear had disappeared (this assurance is from the Holy Spirit which God gives to every Christian when they believe). It was, and still is, the most wonderful feeling of true freedom and peace. Since becoming a Christian I have had an eternal joy, a joy that is not acquired through self seeking nor from material success and happiness, but a free gift of God, through Jesus. I know where I am going when I die. I can now live life to the full each day because I know that what I live for I can never ever lose - even if I lose everything else. There is no more confusion or search for truth because Jesus is my reason to live. Truth stands the test of scrutiny. Jesus stands this test and he answers sincere prayer. I sum up by saying again that it is experiencing the love forgiveness and joy of God through his son that gives me the purpose to live, and to know that the hope of this relationship with the living God is for all who desire it.
I sincerely hope that some of you who have had the same heartsearching questions to life, and are desiring to know the living God, may one day trust Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If I can be of any help please do not hesitate to contact me by writing via CMF.
Clinical Medical Student