Throughout everything that I have experienced during the journey of my life, I’ve never been able to deny God’s existence and that he is the way, the truth and the life. And sometimes, that’s really annoyed me!
I was deeply blessed to grow up in a Christian home with two amazing parents who shared Jesus with me from a young age. This led to me committing my life to Jesus when I was 5 years old. I remember sitting with my Mum one Sunday evening, when Dad was out preaching, and as she shared the gospel with me, I knew I wanted to live my life with Jesus. However, if I’m honest, my reason for that was not because of God’s love, but because I was scared of going to hell.
For some reason I’ve always struggled with believing that I’m lovable. I’d manage to filter out the love of God and only hear that I was sinful and needed an escape from eternal punishment. Whilst this is true, I missed out on knowing the love of a Father who had been affectionately pursuing me since the beginning of time, and so as a result I struggled with feeling worthless and unloved.
This mindset was then perpetuated when I was abused as a child. This experience reinforced my warped self-worth and filled me with huge amounts of shame, causing me to hide from my parents and hide from God. I was angry with God and felt betrayed by my Father. I did all I could to rebel against him and tried to find love in all the wrong places, leaving me feeling even worse. However, although the churches I grew up in were amazing and filled with Bible truth, they were also rather traditional and didn’t leave much room for encounters with the Holy Spirit. Because of this I developed a religious attitude which saw me rock up on a Sunday and portray the image of a perfect ‘church boy’, whilst my personal life was in tatters. I got so frustrated with God that I was left in this cycle of destructive behaviour with no way out, feeling broken and unloved and yet still feeling pressure to ‘perform’. I wanted to walk away completely so many times, believing that I could find the love I needed if I renounced my faith and looked for it elsewhere – and yet, frustratingly I could never bring myself to do it. I knew Jesus was real. I knew he was God. I knew he died for me, and so I could never pretend that that wasn’t true. I just wanted to know, more than that, to feel, that I was loved. I needed God to show up for me, and boy he did.
Standing in a worship session at a youth camp I attended every year, I wasn’t ready for what was about to hit me. The band began to play and the lyrics of the first song broke me. It was How He Loves by Jesus Culture and as the words “He loves us, oh how he loves us” were repeated around me, I poured with tears as it suddenly dawned on me that God wasn’t angry with me or disappointed in me, but passionately loved me. This same love led him to the cross, all so he could do life with me. I met the Holy Spirit that day as he poured his liquid love into me, washing me clean and beginning a journey of transformation that changed my entire life. I finally surrendered to Jesus. I gave to him all the pain, all the hurt, all the anger, and frustration and confusion. I gave him my life, and in return he gave me life to the full.
And the rest is history! … Well, not really. I wish I could say it has been that easy!
Since then it’s been a bumpy road of continual surrender, constantly giving Jesus back the things that I’ve kept on taking away from him, constantly turning to God to remind me I’m loved and chosen and that he’s a good Father.
It’s been a long journey of healing, with God meeting me in many more miraculous ways and showing me the power of the gospel to completely redeem and transform. He’s given me a purpose to share the gospel with the least and the lost and has marked me out as an evangelist. Knowing I am loved and worth Jesus going to the cross for, has motivated me to go and share this truth with everyone who will listen. I am so grateful to Jesus for stepping in and for proving his love to me. I genuinely don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for him.
Written by Henry Taylor
Henry is currently on The Message Trust’s Academy program being trained in mission and evangelism, alongside working with Festival Manchester to engage youth groups across the city in evangelism, encouraging young people to respond to the good news of Jesus. Outside of this, he is looking forward to getting married in September – another miracle of God’s grace.