At the age of 4, I lost my mother to cancer. I was left confused, angry and with a drive to go on with life on my own. The only person I thought I could count on was myself.
For 20 years, I tried everything I thought would bring me happiness and pleasure. Success in running brought me many great opportunities, but my self-focused goals resulted in many hurtful decisions and actions. Something much greater was missing from my life.
All I had achieved was nothing compared to missing my mother, blaming God (if He even existed) for her unfair death. In depression, I felt like I had nowhere else to go. I needed guidance and direction with real purpose.
Something started tapping on my heart, telling me that my mom was watching my life from Heaven. I tried to fight it off with more alcohol and late nights, but the knocking on my heart became louder and louder. This became impossible to deny. I knew God was chasing me, and had been for many years. Finally, I decided to stop running from Him.
So in October 2003, I asked Jesus to forgive me for my anger and disobedience toward God, and for all the people I had hurt along the way. He came into my heart and swept me clean. All the anger and bitterness toward my mother’s death became healed, and I was ready to restart my life fresh.
My life has changed forever, and I will never feel empty or unfulfilled again — so long as I don’t put God on “call-waiting.” God is real, and He walks alongside me every day. He convicts me when I stray, and loves me when I’m lonely. But greatest of all, He has given me His promise that I will enter His Heavenly Kingdom, and celebrate with my mother and family, when my time here on earth is finished.
Nothing I have done during my life has allowed me to deserve this. My selfish existence is proof that God can and wants to forgive everyone. We just have to ask.
Jesus is the only man to have lived the perfect life. He never wronged anyone, and yet He was beaten and humiliated for crimes of which He was innocent. After remaining silent through all this punishment, He was hung and killed on a cross — a punishment reserved for the worst of criminals. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, proving that He was the Son of God, and that He had fulfilled all prophecies about a Savior who would pay the price for all people’s wrongs. He opened the gates to Heaven.
Jesus is not about religion. He is a living God who wants to be a part of our lives. He knows we are messed up and struggle with different temptations. He wants to help free us, so we can enjoy life to the full, not live a boring life following strict rules and regulations.
Jesus offers His life to us as a free gift. It is up to us whether we choose to unwrap the gift waiting. I pray that you will open it and see what you find inside.
—Nick Willis, New Zealand runner