But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)

For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD,
my confidence since my youth.
Psalm 71:5

All throughout my childhood and into my teen years, I was shy--shy to the point that by the time I was a teenager if I saw someone I knew at a store I would go to the next aisle to hide.

The summer before my junior year was a very dark time for our family (for reasons I prefer not to share online, since they involve other people than me). Adding to that, towards the end of the summer, I was told by my closest friend that the group we hung out with thought I was clingy and didn't want me hanging around any more. I felt very alone.

But, our family also started going back to church that summer. At church, I heard things I had heard many times before--that God loved me and had sent his son, Jesus, to die for my sins. These were things I had known and believed since I was little, but they became real to me in a new way that summer. I realized something that had never sunk in before--that if God loved me THAT MUCH, what others thought of me didn't really matter.

Then, the last day of the summer at a youth group meeting, when they asked for prayer requests I asked for confidence.

The next day I came to school, knowing that I would have to walk the halls alone with no friends to walk with me. Though I didn't mind being by myself, being by myself in a crowd was always terrifying to me. But I walked the halls that day and did not feel alone. It was truly like Jesus was walking with me.

I would like to say I have felt that presence ever since. I have been through long, long valleys where God has seemed very un-real and far away. And yet even in these times He has given me moments of light to remind me that He is still here, walking with me.

What does it mean that "Jesus died for our sins?"

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