Deal or No Deal

Tim is a tutor in financial markets.

Whilst at uni, I remember a guy coming to my door, saying he was a Christian and asking if I’d like to hear about Jesus. I shut the door before he’d finished.

‘Not interested, thanks!’ I wondered how he got through the security doors that were meant to keep unwelcome visitors out.

Ten years later my life looked pretty amazing. A challenging, highly paid job enabled me to afford the finer things in life. I had a loving wife, a supportive family, a network of friends, and a series of hobbies to occupy the thirst for new experience.

At least that’s what I would have told you. The reality was very different.

All these things couldn’t overcome a deep dissatisfaction. Bonuses were never enough. I jumped from one pursuit to another looking for the antidote. Soon I’d look for the next thing.

For several years we had tried, and failed, to have children. My wife frequently got pregnant but the news was always the same. I had never experienced disappointment like this before. Finally, after an entopic pregnancy, four cycles of IVF, and thousands of pounds later, we were no closer. Worn down by disappointment, we gave up.

While visiting a chapel on holiday, my wife suggested we pray. I offered God a deal: if he were to give me a son, I would go to church. It seemed reasonable to offer something in exchange, to persuade him to do something for us. A good deal, I thought.

Three months later my wife was pregnant. Theodore – a ‘gift from God’ – was born that year. A little later I made good on my end of the deal, and went to church.

Job done, right? I’m going to church; God should be happy; so I’ll get into heaven. Or that’s what I thought.

But as I continued to go to church, I started to realise God doesn’t work like that.

I read the accounts of Jesus’ life for myself and looked at evidence for their reliability. I heard about prophecies made hundreds of years before being fulfilled. I considered how the disciples went from being utterly terrified to boldly teaching that Jesus rose from the dead. I found Jesus’ words powerful and loving.

But what Jesus said also made me realise that my deal with God was useless. I needed to take His claims seriously, otherwise I would be going to a very bad place for a very long time, no matter how good I tried to be.

I responded on the train home, asking God for forgiveness of my sins, thanking Jesus for his sacrifice for me, and asking him to take over my life; no lightning bolts, claps of thunder, or voices from heaven. I just went back to reading my economics book with the rest of the commuters on the train back to Woking. Outwardly, nothing happened, but inwardly, the change couldn’t have been bigger.

Two years on and life is very different. Knowing Jesus has brought real change. He is the only one qualified to take complete control of my life. I no longer have that constant drive to find the antidote; I have it in Jesus.

Life isn’t always easy, but no matter what happens with employment, relationships, or health, Jesus’ promises give me hope beyond this life; hope that isn’t linked to the economy, my bonus, or my family, but to my relationship with Jesus, who died for me so I can be with him forvever in Heaven. The future is bright!

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