Now, my life is Great!
It’s so satisfying! I have so much joy and hope for an amazing future! I’m filled with vision and purpose for life!
But it wasn’t always like this…
For most of my time in Japan, I made pretence to my family and friends that my life was great. I had this amazing career, living in Japan, learning and speaking Japanese, teaching kids which I loved, but the truth of the matter was, I had lost all the excitement and joy this life could have brought, I was empty inside and I had lost hope.
Six more years down the line where would I be? I didn’t want to be 30 years old and still carrying on this dead end party lifestyle, which could never really fulfil me in anyway. I made a declaration to myself then and there. This was my life, I was the only one who could make a difference in it, I was the only one who could start the change.
But I wasn’t exactly sure how?!
One Christmas I went back to visit my family, in England, I drank away my shame as I saw my friends and family getting on with their lives, starting families, finding loved ones and not letting their insecurity take over. What had I got to show for my life, it finally dawned on me, not a lot. When I got back I vowed I would change myself, I had already started living healthier, and trying to find my spiritual self, albeit down the wrong alley.
I had written a list of things I wanted to accomplish in life, or in that year at least, I wanted to learn Yoga, write a novel, become fluent in Japanese, make more friends, read more, the list went on and somewhere down at the bottom I had written ‘Go to church’. I don’t know what had inspired me to write it, maybe my mother’s constant nagging had finally gotten the better of me. But there was that calling in my heart.
Despite trying to do a lot of these things, none of them really fulfilled me, my own soul was nagging away at me to do something more. So one day after spending the whole weekend locked in my apartment by myself, I searched on the internet for a church, what harm could it do, I could just go, if I didn’t like it I could leave and never have to go again.
Maybe I would meet a few people, I certainly wasn’t meeting any sat around here. So I searched and I found Jesus Lifehouse Osaka, not far from me. The website looked really appealing and friendly and modern, I was suddenly filled with a surge of excitement and eagerness, I was going to go to this church, I was going to meet some new people, I wasn’t nervous like I thought I would be, instead I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation. I didn’t understand why I felt so excited to go there or why I was so adamant that I would, but that week I just couldn’t wait to go to that church.
Little did I know at the time that this was Jesus calling his lost
daughter back home. From that day God’s spirit and love started filling up inside of me, the hole in my heart that I had been trying to fill with alcohol and men was being replaced with a purity that I thought I could never get back.
The day I went back to church, I broke down inside. I realised that all my efforts and energy I had been putting into making my life better were fruitless without God’s help. I couldn’t do it by myself and I didn’t have to do it by myself!
Remember the story Jesus told of the lost son, well the end of the story goes like this.
Luke 15 20-24
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.”
I was like that son, I had gone my own way, got totally lost, lost hope, lost satisfaction and was pretty much losing out in life. It was only at my darkest point did I turn back to God and realise, I can just go home to Jesus. He wants me back in his life, it’s what he longs for most.
After everything that I had done, I felt ashamed and stupid – I was not worthy, I thought, to even be considered a Christian, so I ran further away from any kind of good thing in my life. But on this day God made me realise I am WORTHY.
That day God wiped my plate clean, as if all the points on my drivers licence were suddenly irrelevant, I was given a new chance and I wasn’t going to give that up. He welcomed me back with open arms and filled me with love and joy, he gave me more compassion than I could ever comprehend.
My heart had become cold towards love, towards my family, towards acceptance by others, BUT now I have a renewed heart filled with love that I can’t stop spreading. Because of this my life has changed in more than words can say.
“I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you, I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God willed, not self-willed.” Ezekial 36 v 26
I met many people that day, they surpassed all of my preconceptions and false apprehensions I had been carrying around towards Christians. They were all people just like me, who had stuffed up, who had smoked and drank and abandoned themselves to their insecurities, they were not perfect and they needn’t have been because God had chosen to love them all the same.
God shone through them like I had never seen God shine amongst his people, they accepted me warts and all, they didn’t judge me, but wholesomely wanted me to be a part of them. They had vision and purpose in their life to change and be a part of change in Japan! And I thought to myself, these are the people that make the world worth living in, I wanted to be like them and I wanted to be a part of them.
From that day I did become a part of Jesus Lifehouse Osaka, I became a Christian again just like them, I learned to give my life, not just take it. But more importantly I let Jesus back in and letting Jesus into my life will always be the most life changing thing I have ever done.
I was lost, but now I am found. And “so the party began…!”
Maybe you like me have got lost in life, or don’t really know where you are headed. It can feel hard and tough; we don’t know all the answers. But there is hope and joy to be found. It’s not difficult and we don’t have to go on a pilgrimage to find it. We just have to turn to Jesus.
He is waiting for us arms wide open. He is not going to tell us off or make us feel guilty, he is just going to welcome us back home, into his arms of love, fill the hole in us and restore our hearts. And then he is gonna CELEBRATE!
Maybe you are unsure about church and the whole Christianity thing, I was for 5 years! I ran as far away from it as I could and for 2 and half years whilst I lived in Japan I was adamant I didn’t need to go to church, nor did I want to.
But once I built up the courage and went, my whole life changed around. Now I really can believe it when I tell my family, I am living the best life ever – because I am!
So why don’t you come on down and see for yourself, even if it’s just to meet some new friends, I guarantee you will have a good time!