'The best and most challenging thing about being a Christian'
Ben’s story | Amazed at what God can work through
“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.”
“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. 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. But knowing that Jesus had saved me and living with Jesus as my Lord were two different things. My background had meant my natural inclination was towards doing ‘good’ things – reading the Bible, praying, attending church regularly, stewarding what God had given me. But I also started to work out that those were things I did out of obligation and tradition, not because I had a heart that wanted to honour my Lord.
“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 I had my mind blown every class, seeing that the Bible did fit together, that the Old Testament mattered to our understanding of the cross, that Jesus really was 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 was unimaginably costly. It often meant leaving family and support systems. It was so humbling to see how Jesus was enough.
“Then things became very hard for me. 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)”