Ethics & Christian living

Purpose and hope: how faith has changed me – by Andrew Ryland

opened bible on wooden surfaca

About 2 years ago I wrote a blog post about how I became a Christian. My intention was mainly to be transparent about why I chose this path with family, friends, colleagues and those in my social networks. I hoped to inspire a few people along the way.

I had an amazing and overwhelmingly positive reaction. In many ways this was wonderful and reaffirming – its natural to want people to respond well when you share such things.

Not about me

But my journey of faith isn’t primarily about me. It is about who I have faith in: Jesus. And what he has done and continues to do in my life and my family’s life. This is the reason why I am sharing this article.

Recently I bumped into an old friend who I hadn’t seen for a while. She told me that she had read the blog post and that she became inspired to reconnect with God during a tough time in her life. I’ll let my friend take up the story…..

Turning point

“Following the birth of my son, I fell into a long period of sleepless nights and depression. I would later be diagnosed with post-natal depression but a turning point was coming across Andrew’s post on social media where he shared his own personal story. Andrew and I had gone to the same Church of England school and like him, as I got older and life took over I had drifted away from my faith.

Andrew’s post reminded me of the power of prayer which I had long forgotten. The simple act of praying was like a ray of light in the darkness that I had found myself in. In prayer I felt God’s love, understanding and acceptance during a time when I felt overwhelmed, unworthy and inadequate as a new mother. Andrew’s sharing of his own story helped me to realise that we can always get help from God but that we need to ask Him to come into our lives. My son just turned three and we are a church family who are grateful for His guidance and love.”

Changing lives

You see, this is really the crux of what this is about: Jesus radically changes lives for the better. He’s done it for me, he’s done it for my friend and countless others.  This is not just about a religious act of going to church – faith has changed my life. These are 3 key ways:

1. I pray each day

Praying is communicating with God. As a family we make a point of praying everyday. God has answered prayers for us, and he continues to do so. Praying also helps us understand God’s will and purpose for us in our lives. I believe that prayers which align with God’s will and purpose will be answered.

2. I have renewed purpose

A few years back I read a Bible reading plan which encouraged people to ask God to give them one word which would mean something to them. The word which immediately and clearly came to me was “Purpose.”

This led me really start exploring what God’s will is for me. How can my skills and resources be used by God? How I can help others more?  This has got me involved in church and community activities that I never would have before.

Recently I fasted from a few things that I like such as alcohol, caffeine, social media and sports podcasts (not getting my regular Peter Crouch fix was hard!) But these practices help me focus on what is truly important.

3. I want to share my faith story

And I felt him encouraging me to sharing with people in my sphere of influence whether friends, family, colleagues or otherwise. When I wrote the previous blog post, I had no idea of who would read it or what it would lead to.

As witnesses to Jesus and how he has changed our lives, it is our duty to tell others about it, to encourage other people and not to keep this to ourselves.

We never know the impact of the things we say. Perhaps this will help people reading to reconnect with God or take a first step towards faith?

A journey…

The journey is not easy or straight-forward. There are many areas of my life where I know I have a long way to go.

But I am clear about my direction. And already, this is a journey which has changed me – by giving me purpose and a sure hope for the future.

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