I was a tortured soul as a youth. My parents had moved constantly while I was younger, usually to totally different parts of the country. I went through the experience of losing friends and trying to make new ones so many times that in the end I just gave up - what was the point? I'd soon be saying goodbye again. I became lonely and withdrawn.
I'd always believed there was a God since I first thought about it. I hadn't been brought up with this - my parents didn't take us to church or tell us about their beliefs. But somehow this conviction had taken hold of my life. The difficulty was, I couldn't seem to find this God I believed in. I tried lots of things - Eastern spirituality was in fashion - and thought that if you rolled all the beliefs about God together you be bound to come up with something like the truth in the end. But none of it filled the deep emptiness I felt within. I began to wonder if God didn't want me.
Then my father died very suddenly of a heart attack and things got a great deal worse. I found I had nothing inside to help me care for my mum, who was devastated, nor for my brothers, when they most needed me. We fell apart a bit. God seemed further away than ever. I sank into depression. Life had no meaning or purpose whatever.
Bedtime many months later: as I got ready for bed I prayed, "God, if you're there at all, you can have my life. It's no use to me." I fell asleep immediately, something I had been unable to do for a long time.
The following day I felt a strange urge to get up and go out into the streets. I remembered what I had prayed. "This is a strange urge," I thought, "Could this be God answering my prayer?" So off I went. I bumped into someone who was actually going along to an evening service at my local parish church. It was the last place on earth I'd thought of to go looking for God. But over a period of weeks, as I heard and responded to what I heard there, I came to realise that the way to find God is through Jesus.
I remember the night it finally dawned on me that God really loved me: a warm Devon night in August. I had gone away with the Church Youth for a week's houseparty and a brilliant speaker had seemed to speak straight into my heart. I went out and lay on the grass, looking up at the stars, and finally felt that there was a place for me in the universe.
What about you? If you're at St Matthew's and you have a story of what God has done for you, please let Jeremy have it, and soon! Don't forget they're supposed to be anonymous (sorry about that Jeremy - can a blogging vicar be a special case?)