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Drinking, chasing girls, playing sport & finding Jesus

Tom Thrower
February 27, 2008

I grew up thinking that Christianity was a boring set of rules - and why would anyone want to make themselves slave to a bunch of rules? And the promise that if you obeyed them well enough, you’d go to heaven, wasn’t much of motivation. I didn’t much want to go to heaven - the bit about being with God forever sounded a bit dull. And, anyway, I thought that I was a good moral person, so that if it all turned out to be true, then I’d got that one covered.

When I got to University I dived into the freedom of University life, drinking lots, chasing girls, playing vast amounts of sport, and winging my degree where necessary. I met people who called themselves Christians, and they seemed nice enough. They’d join in with the rest of us, but there was always a point where they were different. I couldn’t work it out…what made them different?

I didn’t have much time to think about it as I blazed through 2 years of sleep-deprived Uni life, but by my second year I had stopped enjoying myself as much as before - I didn’t know what was going on. It was a disorienting time. I also started to realise that my pride in my good moral character was misplaced…I was not such a good person. This was a real shock. I started wondering what life was all about - why did I work so hard in my second year, and yet when I got my good exam results at the end of the year, feel no elation - only a kind of cold relief?All this time I admired my Christian friends, but I disliked their beliefs - the idea that I owed God anything was something I hated. As far as I was concerned, Christianity was weak and implausible - but I could not deny the lives my friends lived.

I had been taken to a few bible studies by a mate of mine, and had really enjoyed them. I’d attended some of the Durham Christian Union mission talks, and had been impressed with their robust defence of Christianity. I did the Christianity Explored course, and asked my hardest questions. I was sure it would fall to pieces, I mean how could Christians really claim that Jesus is the Son of God, or that the Bible is the word of God? I was sure it would fall apart…but it didn’t. The more questions I asked, the more answers I got, persuasively pointing me to Jesus and the bible. This was not really meant to be happening - why wasn’t this Christianity thing going away?

I had never considered that I could become a Christian. That was simply not an option, so when faced with all the evidence as well as the powerful witness of my Christian friends, I ran from it all. I blocked it out, and went back to all the things I had been doing, drinking, going out and chasing girls, playing huge amounts of sport…trying to fill my life, trying to make sense of things. Going into the Easter term of my third year, I was struggling. My work hadn’t given me the answer to my life, and so I wasn’t doing all that much of it. Everything seemed pretty empty.A Christian friend got in touch and asked to meet up, which we did. He said “Tom, I’m really worried about you - I’m worried you’ll leave university without deciding who Jesus was.” This struck a chord in me - I was pretty worried about myself. I didn’t really what he was saying, but he was serious, and was clearly frightened of how I’d react. He had no idea if I’d tell him to get lost and end the friendship, or what - but he believed what he was saying so profoundly that it compelled him to challenge me.

This started a gradual realisation that in all my questions, I had never accepted the possibility that Christianity was true. I knew this had to change. I started meeting up with my mate, to study the bible. But I was still confused. I thought that becoming a Christian meant becoming a monk - trying to stop doing bad things…or really anything - being basically really boring. But as I chatted with friends, and read, I started to see that God was about renewing us, making us more and more into who we’re meant to be. In Jesus, God was saving us, in the most glorious way.

I came back to Uni after my Easter holiday, and spent another week asking loads of questions. On the Sunday night, I chatted with my Christian flatmate. I remember this thought suddenly struck me, ‘If what Jesus has done is really true, then I don’t want for anything.’ If Jesus had really died for me, in a radically personal way, then I didn’t need to chase identity and meaning in work, drink, sport, girls…all my striving, all my guilt, all my struggles were paid for in Jesus dying on the cross. The most intense feeling of freedom came over me - like everything was changed. It was a bit emotional. And then another flatmate walked into the room, and the feeling suddenly went. What had just happened?I went back to my room and sat awake for ages, thinking and praying. Eventually I fell asleep. I woke up feeling pretty tired, and headed off to the library to revise for my finals. I couldn’t concentrate. Something had happened that previous night, but what? I went over to the Cathedral and sat and prayed. I kept asking God to tell me what had happened - had I become a Christian?

I prayed for ages. As I went to leave the Cathedral, a conversation I had had two years earlier with a Christian friend of mine came back to me. We were talking about the Columbine high school shooting, where two teenagers shot and killed a number of their schoolmates. One of those killed was a Christian - one of the gunmen held a gun to her head and asked her if she believed in God and she said yes, knowing that he would kill her. My friend said that in that situation she would do the same. I was properly outraged - I remember thinking this was one of the stupidest things I had heard. The obvious thing was to say no, to tell a lie, and to survive. But two years later, as I left the Cathedral, I realised that without a shadow of a doubt, I would say yes as well, because I knew that I would go to heaven because of Jesus‘ death for me. This was very different from the emotion of the night before - a calm realisation that Jesus died for ME, in a personal way. He went to the cross so that I can have a relationship with God.

Now life is completely different. I know God. He is my guide, my Lord, my value…everything! Now I am on the other side of the fence, trying to share with people the REAL Jesus, the reality of knowing Him, and of walking in relationship with Him.

Tom Thrower
Tom Thrower is a Staff worker for UCCF in the North East. He looks after (amongst others) York St. Johns & York University, encouraging, enabling and equipping the CU's to be Jesus on campus. To contact Tom click here.

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