I was 17 when my 11 year old brother was killed in a car crash. I had already given my life to God when at 14 all the beliefs I had been brought up with suddenly made personal sense to me. In an encounter with the Holy Spirit I'd been overwhelmed first by a realisation of my own selfishness and then by the sense of his love and forgiveness. Now my faith was tested in a big way for the first time.
When I went to bed that night I remember saying to God, "This is the most horribly real thing that's happened to me. If you're real and see me through this then I will never, ever let go of you. But if I'm just kidding myself then I can't be doing with fairy tales."
I woke up in the middle of the night singing and praising God. I knew at the time that it was a strange thing to be happening. I kept a bible by my bed and I randomly opened it. My eyes fell on this verse:
We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him (Romans 8:28)
I turned the pages randomly again and this verse stood out on the page:
Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (Thessalonians 5:18)
The whole experience assured me that God is very real
I would never quote verses like these to someone who is in shock and overwhelmed with grief. But God spoke these words to me from the pages of my bible and they brought hope and peace and even joy. They told me that however bad things were he was in control, loved me and was with me. The whole experience assured me that God is very real.
In the 38 years since, God has never let me down. When I call out to him he always answers. He doesn't always protect me from difficulty but he is with me. Every experience, good or bad, becomes an opportunity to share my ordinary life with an extraordinary God. I began my Christian life realising how Jesus' death on the cross has paid the price for my selfishness. I've continued my Christian life realising how God's love and acceptance mean he doesn't only want to give me good things he wants to give me himself: he wants me to get closer and closer and to enjoy his presence now and in eternity.