Truth in the UK's public square

My Life Story – Naomi Kennedy (I broke all the rules)

I was brought up in a strict Christian family, but a very loving one nonetheless. Growing up I heard the gospel of Jesus Christ preached, but I didn’t want anything to do with it. I didn’t want “salvation”. I just wanted life, my way. I lived a contradictory sort of existence. Deep down I respected the Bible, and I attended Christian meetings every now and again out of a fear of God – the God who held my breath in his hand and who could close it any time. But since – as I thought – Christianity was just a book of rules, I went out of my way to break every rule I knew, flying in God’s face, all the time fooling myself that I was “having a good time”.

At the age of 20, to please my boyfriend, I said I had become a Christian. But I wasn’t genuine and there was no change for the better in my life. Sadly, I hid behind that “Christian mask” for many years. Then, at 24, I met another guy and fell in love with him. He was an atheist who believed we all die like dogs. I knew my parents wouldn’t approve, so I kept the relationship secret. By now I had my own house and I was drinking, partying and having great fun; but deep down there was always that niggling thought: “Naomi, where will you spend eternity?” Was I worried? Yes, but the devil kept me busy and I kept telling myself “You can get this sorted sometime in the future”. The fact is, because I was living a sinful life, the cost of becoming a real Christian would have been massive.

My life continued like this for many years, living with an awful fear of death and hell, but blocking it out by “living life to the full”. In early 2013, my brother, who was also a nominal Christian, became concerned about his sinful ways and how different he was from what a true Christian should be. He honestly faced up to the fact that he had never truly been born again and came clean that he wasn’t a Christian after all! He started to attend gospel preaching meetings regularly. Then his daughter, my niece, was saved, which also really impacted him. When I found out that my brother, who was very close to me, had come out and admitted he wasn’t really a Christian, and was now “seeking the Lord”, I was shaken to the core. I literally shook inside. My cover was blown. If my brother repented and believed the gospel, and became a true follower of Jesus Christ, I would be the only one left in our family who was not saved. I was so worried I couldn’t sleep, but pride kept me from admitting it to anyone.

I already had a summer holiday booked and paid for. I had planned, as I had done many times before, to jet away to “party in the sun” with my partner and friends. I toyed with putting off the issue of salvation till the autumn. Why not wait, go and enjoy my holiday, and sort things out when I get back? But I couldn’t postpone the issue any more. I became so worried about losing my soul and ending up in hell, I decided I just had to come clean about everything. I told my partner, “I need to be saved and I need it now”. He left my house that day deeply saddened. I rang another friend and told her I wouldn’t be going on the holiday. I rang my mum (who had prayed for my salvation for years) and told her “I am not saved but I really want to be.” Then I got all my drink and cigarettes and threw them in the bin. In my heart I felt like, “I want salvation, and nothing or no one is going to stand in my way this time.”

That evening I went to a place where the Bible’s message of salvation was being preached. I had heard it many times before, but now I listened intensely to every word. The preacher read out some verses (I already knew them off by heart!). He told his audience to “believe” and be saved. He said that my faith would save me, and also that Jesus Christ would save me. I was totally confused and actually totally blind to the truth of how to get right with God. Over the next couple of days I talked it over with my brother and my mum. I read Christian booklets. I kept hearing the word “believe”. I thought to myself, “I already believe”. Of course I did! I never remember a time when I didn’t believe in God, or even that Christ died for me. Yet I knew I wasn’t a Christian. I wasn’t saved.

This time I wanted to be absolutely sure that if I were to become saved it would be genuine and real. I desperately wanted to have peace but I was still “doing it my way”, struggling and trying to work it all out like it was some kind of challenge. I spoke to my brother in law, who told me that I couldn’t have peace while I was at war with God. Though I was “seeking” the Lord, I was still really fighting with God, rather than accepting the peace He has already provided through His Son, the Lord Jesus. But my biggest stumbling block remained the issue of “believing”. I had convinced myself that “believing” means I had to do something – some kind of meritorious action or exertion on my part. To me, “believing” was a task to be completed, and if I managed to “do it” – to believe hard enough – God would reward me with the gift of eternal life. I tried and tried, but got absolutely nowhere.

Shortly afterwards, on a visit to my mum’s house, I told her everything I was doing to try and become a Christian. I was praying, reading the Bible, googling Bible terms and truths, and trying to work up enough faith to be saved, so why wasn’t God saving me? My mum sensed my frustration. Looking at me straight in the eye, she firmly and clearly said: “Naomi, salvation is nothing that you are going to do. Salvation is in a person. In Christ.”

Wow. For the first time in my life it hit me. I realised at that moment that salvation didn’t depend on some kind of impressive act of “believing” or “trusting” on my part. God was telling me that the real act of salvation has already been done! When Christ died on the cross, He answered every charge God had against me and took all the punishment for my sins, to save me from being punished in hell. He suffered so I could go free! That realisation turned my thinking upside down. I had been labouring under a terrible misgiving. But now my eyes were open, I was resting on Christ alone, and I was finally free: free from the devil’s ways and his grasp on me, and free to live for God.

The change in my life was unbelievable, so much so that I could hardly believe it myself! God changed everything. He literally gave me a whole new life. All the old desires and habits completely left me. I was a new person from head to toe, from inside out. I didn’t need to pretend like before. I was truly born again. My brother was saved the day after me! What a miracle. Both of us in our early 40’s, our lives totally transformed by the Lord! Years later I remain so deeply thankful to God that He never stopped speaking to me and seeking for me. I fought against Him but still He pursued me until I gave up and gave in and received His peace through the Lord Jesus, who loved me enough to die for me. All glory to Him.

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