Encounters with Jesus! Yana’s Story

God extended his love to me when I was running in the opposite direction.

Let’s start at the beginning, I grew up in a loving family of non-believers. Any mention of God or Christianity were brushed over and conversation deflected onto something they deemed more lighthearted. I never questioned their beliefs any further, but inside I seemed to have a quiet confidence that there was something, someone who I always felt supremely guided by. I can’t explain that feeling any further really, and I definitely didn’t go to a church to find out what it was.

Fast forward a few years, and here I am exploring the glories and downright embarrassing moments of being a teenager. I moved to London, alone. Without my mum asking what time I’ll be home, or raising a disappointed eyebrow at the state I’d return in…Or who with!

At first, it was fun, but sometimes it did spiral out of control and every single time I was steered away from real trouble, just before it was too late. I allowed myself to walk into some pretty sticky situations that I’m sure God would’ve rather me stay out of. Yet he showed up for me with grace, every time.

I began taking responsibility for my relationship with God when at aged 19, I met my biological Father. A man who spoke about God like his best friend, he had his words woven into the fabric of his vocabulary with nothing but love. He walked with God, and lead by real example. He taught me, sharing scripture and reminded me that God wants the best for me. He’s not here to punish me for my mistakes like I thought he was. I didn’t realise they had already been paid for. In full!

Five years later, my dad passed away and I was out on my own again. Well, I thought I was. I simply retreated back to my old ways, just more toxic this time. Toxic relationships, lifestyle and everything else. I was holding on, and not giving it up to God. I spent a long time like that, until one day I felt inspired to reach through my pain and Google local churches. The day I walked through the doors at Balham Vineyard my life changed.

I just couldn’t pinpoint a time I met Jesus, because he’s been coming after me the whole time. However, the moment I said yes to him is incredibly clear. It was the moment I stood before the cross at church, and pinned everything that had claimed me right to it. With tears streaming down my face, some of them grief others, shame, guilt, resentment, trauma, the distance between Gods heart and mine started to reduce. I was surrendering to the love I once fought so hard to resist. I can’t say every single one of those dark feelings left my body, that absolutely everything was made good, because there was still work to be done. But that work has become much easier now I’m allowing Jesus to lead the way.