The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (Berean Study Bible) 

Life changed forever, at the age of seven, when my mum died. Life had been blissfully innocent and safe; our wonderful parents gave us a simple, but safe and secure home to grow up in, but all that changed one day in November 1967 when mum lost her battle against ovarian cancer.

It was an empty, strange time. We weren't allowed to go to the funeral and no one knew exactly what to do with myself and my two sisters each day after school and during school holidays. There was no out-of-hours childcare or social work help, so we spent hours unsupervised and for the first couple of years elderly aunts came to supervise us, or we were sent to one of them for the summer. Our Dad did his best and employed nannies, or housekeepers as we called them - some good, some not so good. Then we were sent away for school holidays for a couple of years to a children's home, which has been in the news, these last few years, for all the wrong reasons. 

I remember such a feeling of emptiness, but it made me begin to wonder what life's purpose was and what happened after you died. I was maybe ten years old. Kids think these thoughts, you know. Without putting it in these words, I had begun a search for God. There had to be something more. 

Skipping forward more than ten years, I was alone in a student flat in Glasgow during a long weekend. My sin and guilt weighed heavily upon me and I knew my life was heading in the wrong direction. I got down on my knees, not even sure any more if Jesus existed, but asked Him – if He was there – to forgive my many sins and 'get in the driver's seat' of my life; I had made a mess of things, I knew that. I got up from my knees and got back to my studying.

Suddenly, about three hours later and in an instant, I felt flooded with light and love. I knew something profound had happened: God had drawn near, I knew my many sins were forgiven and I felt deeply changed inside. Cleansed and forgiven! I knew this Jesus had come to me. The bible calls it being born again. It certainly felt like a new birth.

In that same moment an amazing thing happened. It was as if my eyes were opened for the first time and suddenly, I understood the Cross. Of course, the Cross! It all made sense for the first time. Jesus had taken my sins on the Cross and died for me, so I could be forgiven. I don't understand how I knew, but I just knew and I've known every day since.

This Easter let us think about the Cross. He went to the Cross because He loved us and knew we couldn't cancel out our sins alone. He then rose from the dead on Easter Sunday to prove His victory over sin, hell and now death. There is a way to Life in Jesus Christ. I know – it happened to me. “For, God so loved the world...”