How would you describe your life before you knew Jesus?
In one sense there was not really a time before I knew of Jesus and understood that he was important to my life and my relationship with God. My family has a cultural heritage from Kerala, South India. We grew up in a traditional Indian church. The beauty of that was the way it instilled in me the importance of reading the Bible and praying. Order and discipline in Christian duty was something that in hindsight I am very thankful for.
My background sometimes meant my natural inclination was towards doing good things – reading the Bible, praying, attending church regularly, stewarding what God had given me. This meant I did not fix my eyes on Jesus, instead focusing on what I could do. I now see that those were things I did out of obligation and tradition, not because I had a heart that wanted to honour my Lord.
However, once I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, the disciplines of my childhood helped me immensely in my walk with the Lord. I am forever thankful to my parents for living out this verse in the way they raised me: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Prov 22:6).
When and how did you come to trust Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?
When I was 10, I remember my Scripture teacher at school asking us whether we knew for sure that we were going to heaven. I was quite shocked. How could anyone know for sure they were going to heaven? Why would she ask such a question?
I went home and I told my mum, who’d noticed that I was grumpy. My mum replied that actually we could be sure that we could be in heaven. She pointed me to a truth from John’s Gospel, that whoever comes to Jesus he will never drive away (John 6:37). That was a genuinely important moment in my understanding. I had assurance of salvation because Jesus did it. I trusted Jesus. However, living with Jesus as the one in control of every aspect of my life has been a gradual process. In the Lord’s kindness he has shaped me through engaging with Scripture in faithful teaching, Bible reading, and applying the Bible in the messiness of life.
Then in 2014, I went and studied at Moore Theological College [Sydney]. My cohort was wonderful. And it was a great kindness of God that I had the time to drink deeply from Scripture. It felt like in every class I had my mind blown, seeing that the Bible does fit together, that the Old Testament matters to our understanding of the cross, that Jesus really is God’s ‘Amen’ to all his promises!
After College, I went into parish ministry, in a multicultural area of Sydney. I realised that for many of my brothers and sisters in this area, following Jesus is unimaginably costly. It often meant leaving family and support systems. It was so humbling to see how Jesus is enough.
Praise the Lord that he saved me and that he continues to teach and grow me to submit to him in every aspect of my life.
What is the biggest difference Jesus makes to your life now?
The biggest difference Jesus makes to my life now is in the way he sustains me and allows me to keep walking with him, serving him, and is breaking me down to learn what it means to be content in him.
In recent times, my closest relationship became fractured, and it was heart wrenching. And while I wouldn’t wish that emotional pain and turmoil on anyone, in the midst of it all I saw the great kindness of God in many and varied ways. When people at church heard about it, they began to share with me more. They opened up with me and they shared their own struggles within their relationships. They were so honest about their day-to-day lives. I received support from older, wiser brothers. And I prayed and read the Bible more. Those difficulties shifted my focus away from my perceived control, and on to God who is in control.
I am learning humility – how much of a naïve young whippersnapper I am. Knowing that God is in control is both the best and most challenging thing about walking with Jesus. It is the best because he knows best and loves us more than we could ever imagine. It is the most challenging because despite my yearning and tears, all the God-given skills I have don’t give me the ability to transform the heart. That is God’s work alone.
God’s faithfulness and loving kindness is clear in Scripture, and I am honestly content with that. To try and work out why God would put difficult things in my life would be to imitate the foolishness of Job’s friends. I’d much rather echo Job’s words, knowing that I have assurance of eternal life in Jesus and be content: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).