As for many others, the student lifestyle appealed to Jacob. Away in London on a film course he felt free from the shackles of his parents’ expectations.
As far as his upbringing was concerned, Jacob seemed to be a Christian. He’d been attending services each week and involved in different church activities.
However, at home it was a different story. Jacob’s relationships with his parents and sisters deteriorated. He was living for himself.
Once in London, church attendance stopped. Jacob got in with the wrong crowd. He fell seriously behind with his coursework. He’d run into trouble.
Before long, things reached crisis point.
To start with, Jacob was in denial. “I felt the pressure” he recalled, “but escaped by pursuing my ideas of ‘fun’ and ‘fulfilment’ even more, until I reached a point where I couldn’t go on.”
Jacob remembers the night – it was a Thursday.
“I remember feeling as though I had been having the most ‘fun’ I’d ever had, but I was the most miserable I’d ever been.”
He needed help. Picking up the phone, Jacob called a friend he still had from church.
“Throughout this time,” Jacob said, “if someone had asked if I believed in God, I would have answered ‘yes’. I knew in my heart that I was rejecting God to live my way.”
Jacob had been running from God. His friend had a simple message: “You need to get right with him.”
Jacob spoke to God right where he was. “I knew I was rejecting God to live my way. I asked God to forgive me for turning my back on him and asked him to help me.”
This was the turning point. Jacob experienced what it was for God to forgive him because Jesus had died to take the punishment he deserved.
He also found God answering his prayer for help. That very weekend Jacob went away for a couple of days to a wedding.
As Jacob recalled, “God took me away from the unhelpful people in my life and put me amongst Christians who cared about me and were willing to listen and to pray with me.”
Returning to London, Jacob found a new place to stay with helpful friends for two months whilst he brought his course to an end.
Things had changed for Jacob; he was now walking on God’s path, not his own.
Having experienced God’s forgiveness, Jacob sought to put things right with his family.
The result was encouraging: “wonderfully, my family and I are closer than we’ve ever been.”
Looking back can be tough. Jacob admits “there are times when I’ve looked back with sadness and guilt at the things I regret.”
But Jacob is comforted by what Jesus did for him: “I know that all my sin was dealt with on the cross.”
Jacob’s attitude to work has changed too. As well as his regular job, he is studying bookkeeping.
Jacob also returned to fun that has positive rather than negative effects on him. He’s back to running. If you join a local parkrun, watch out for him!
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