Rachel Gilson stole a book from her friend's college dorm room because of its fascinating title - Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, who also wrote the Chronicles of Narnia stories.
As she read it, Rachel had a dawning realization: "Oh my goodness — God is real, and I am in a lot of trouble. Because not only is He real; He is perfect, and I am incredibly imperfect."
But there was an element of hope there too, she says: "I understood for the first time that Jesus had come to place Himself as a kind of wall between God's wrath — His right and fair anger at my sin — and me. I knew that if I trusted in Jesus, I was going to be saved. Now, did I understand the full implications of that? Certainly not. But I knew that I could be somehow connected to Jesus and saved from God's anger.
"I remember thinking, 'Well, I like to drink a lot, I like the excessive parts of my lifestyle, I like to sleep with women—and all those things will have to go out the window. But it is stupid to pretend like what the Bible is saying isn't true just because it's inconvenient. I need to take this deal because I'm never going to get a deal like this again.' I had a sense that I needed to pray, and so I just talked to God right then."
Rachel goes on to explain how she could give up such an important part of her identity, something that had been so fundamental to her sense of self for so long.
"Well," Rachel says, "it would definitely be tragic to give up something that valuable for something that is less valuable. And it would also be tragic to pretend like this real part of my life, my sexuality, is less than it is. But Jesus is more precious than even that very deep part of me, because of His great love.
"The Bible talks about a Christian's relationship with Christ being something we should be able to die for because it's so precious. And celibacy and singleness are not death," she says frankly.
"Not having sex or not experiencing a romantic relationship is a severe thing, but I'd be willing to give up even more than that. In fact, giving up things is a very normal part of the Christian life. There are lots of people who give up sex, who give up their bodies, who give up their money. And you don't really do it out of obligation — you do it out of love. You're captured by Christ's love, and it drives you to do things that you never thought possible before, because Jesus gives you this sense of security and purpose and an ultimate destination."
Rachel concludes, "The reason that most people aren't Christians is either because they think that Jesus isn't really real or that He isn't really worth it. But Jesus is both — really real and really worth it. God has heaped upon me beautiful and good things in place of all I've given up."•
See her full testimony in the book Finding More: Real Life Stories Worth Telling or on her rachelgilson.com blog.