Jesus is With Her: Sarah
- Real lives at CCD
When her dad called her and her sister down to the lounge one day, she thought they were in trouble. What followed was more life changing than she could have imagined as an 11-year-old girl.
A recent crisis had driven Sarah’s dad to look for answers and hope in life. As he pondered these things sitting in a traffic queue, he saw an advertisement go up about Christianity Explored at a local church. He decided to go to the course and, after attending, called a ‘family meeting’ to tell them that he was going to church on Sunday. They all decided to go with him. After that Sunday, they kept attending and the message of the Bible slowly changed their lives. They began to realise that the place to find answers and hope was in Jesus.
About two years after they first went to church, Sarah’s sister was going to publicly announce her faith in Jesus by being baptised. Sarah remembers talking to her grandma about it, who knew very little about what baptism meant. She told Sarah: “I can’t believe you’ll let your sister beat you to getting baptised!” But Sarah knew she wasn’t ready. She didn’t know quite what being ready was, but she knew she wasn’t.
She began to wrestle with why she wasn’t ready to be baptised and what it really meant to follow Jesus. Through the next six months she did a lot of searching and thinking, but the grand finale came when she attended a seminar called “I am a Christian, aren’t I?” at a church youth camp. The speaker was talking about assurance of salvation: knowing for sure that you belong to Jesus. As the man spoke through a list of ways to evaluate if you belong to Jesus, Sarah realised that she wasn’t going to have a big epiphany moment. Her life wasn’t going to be suddenly turned upside down or a zap of light jump from the clouds to make her into something different. It was a change inside her, a decision, the start of a relationship. And she realised, too, that the change had already begun in her. Along her time of searching, she had truly begun to believe that she needed to become right with God, that Jesus had died to take away her sins, and that she was trusting and following Jesus. She didn’t know where along the line the change had happened, but she knew without a doubt that the change HAD happened.
Returning home from camp, she knew she was ready to be baptised and, in two weeks, she was!
Although she’s never ‘looked back’ on following Jesus, there have been challenges. When one of her family’s mentors in the faith fell into sin and turned his back on Jesus, it caused her to question if her faith was true. But Jesus was with her through that.
During high school and uni, she faced challenging questions from classmates, some who only wanted to trip her up in her faith. But Jesus was with her through that. What could have been stumbling blocks, caused her to grow in knowledge of what she had trusted in.
It also made her grow in care for those who didn’t know Jesus. When she was in uni, she often looked for opportunities to share about Jesus. She remembers one time when she was helping give out leaflets for a Christian event. One man stopped for a quick comment. He insisted that churches were corrupt and just out to get money from you. He left without chance for question or reply. Sarah’s heart went out to him, realising that he had probably been hurt somewhere along the lines. It made her think seriously. “What kind of impression do I make?” she wondered, and she hoped that she would treat others with respect and care like Jesus would.
Even though she reflected that there were opportunities that she missed to talk about Jesus, there were encouragements, too. Not everyone turned away from the message of hope that she shared. She had the great joy to see at least one flatmate begin to follow Jesus.
During her studies, Sarah also began to suffer with anxiety. This caused a lot of questions. She felt that, as a Christian, she should not have trouble with anxiety! With peace and joy being two characteristics of Christians, anxiety feels like it should be non-existent. Living in a fallen world, though, Christians are not immune to trials and suffering in this life. One of our great hopes is in the next life, when everything – including ourselves – is made new.
One thing that has greatly helped Sarah with her anxiety, is one of the storms that Jesus went through with His followers. They were on a lake and struck by a storm so severe that the experienced fishermen were in fear for their lives. Jesus, however, had fallen asleep in the boat. When they roused Him, they basically asked: “Don’t you care?!” Jesus did care. He woke and He showed His care in that instant by calming the storm immediately. Sarah knows and often reminds herself that Jesus is with her through HER storms, too. “It’s not what’s going on around you, but who’s in the boat with you.” Jesus is with her and always will be.
– by E.M. Harding