It has been four years and four days since this happened:
I still cannot watch this without thinking two things: 1. God is SO good.
2. I look and sound like a valley girl (who knew!?)
Even though I cringe when I watch my hand talking and hair flipping, I can still see the complete transparency as I cryptically revealed my story. There weren’t a lot of details, but I wrote out my testimony to speak to my heart issue, not the symptoms of my Sin. I didn’t want to glorify how I ruined my life; instead, I wanted to tell the story like an engagement story. After all, you rarely hear couples talk about the fights that they endured to get to “she said yes!” I am broken; God is my healer; I will live in surrender to his will for my life for the rest of my time here on earth.
Early in the video, you hear me talking about how I accepted salvation very young. I was ten; standing on the chairs of HIZ KIDZ (Z’s were super cool in the nineties) at Mount Paran North. The pastor sold salvation as a gift, and what ten year old doesn’t want a gift? I had never prayed the prayer, but I knew I loved this Jesus that my mom told me about…so I repeated the words. I felt excited because the pastor told me that angels were partying for my soul; ANGELS! It was exciting; I told my mom and she was thrilled. I’m not sure if I “felt different,” but as I got older, I realized that feelings are fleeting. My faith had to be rooted in much, much more than a feeling.
After all, I had followed my feelings into a proverbial corner. I had talked myself into relationships, and risky relational behavior because of my sweeping emotions. Yet, somehow, at the end of the day, I was empty. There was something missing. I had walked away from the church because they hurt my feelings. I insisted that I could be equally as connected to my God on my own while I was in college. And yet, I found myself in the church of my broken and co-dependent relationships. I made my boyfriends my gods, hoping that each boyfriend could fill my ever-present longing for a savior; my hunger for adventure; and my need for purpose. Here’s a spoiler: boyfriends aren’t saviors; they won’t give you adventure; and they certainly don’t give you a purpose. That is, not on their own.
I returned to my faith in a moment when I finally realized that I could no longer keep going in the direction I was going. I couldn’t keep forcing relationships that were never supposed to work in the first place. I couldn’t keep making decisions without prayer and purpose. And I knew with certainty that I could not continue to pretend that my relationship with my savior was working without accountability.
When I returned to my faith, it was sincere. It would be six months in between the moment I stopped running away from Christ and my baptism. So…why did I choose baptism? Why not continue my faith in the accountability of my friends and family?
1. Obedience: The verses about baptism are clear; the intention is a public profession of faith and God promises the holy spirit to abide with you in your journey. I wanted to take a bold step of obedience and consider the words of Paul to the people of Ephesus,
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
I knew that my efforts before were not enough; I also knew that any future efforts would fall short as well. I simply wanted to rest in the idea that Christ is my God and my Father and I wanted to wash away this insistence upon doing everything myself. I wanted him to take over.
2. Covenant commitment. For me, baptism was like my wedding day. It was just as special (if not, more so). I can distinctly remember being in the holding room before being immersed thinking, my God is here. I am standing in the presence of my heavenly Father. I wanted to share my testimony and profess my commitment to my savior to be a vessel for his love. I wanted to make sure that I was committed to doing for others what Christ had done for me. My transparent declaration of dependence on my father was enough for me to re-affirm my faith in Jesus.
3. Accountability. For me, baptism was a way to feel connected to my big church. I had a few people recognize me after my video, and that was enough. I didn’t want to defame the name of Jesus with my actions; I didn’t really care where I was, I became hyper-aware that my behavior reflected the work of my savior in me. I became committed to serving others the way that Christ served us.
4. Reckless abandon of your agenda. I journaled after my baptism…
“The moments right before were incredible. Each moment that flashed in my memory wasn’t necessarily a happy memory. In fact–they were two of the darkest memories I have. And yet, at the same time, both were memories that I have when I knew God was nearest to me. The first, when I knew he was walking beside me; the second, I knew he was lovingly admonishing me. For some reason I knew that he was with me; guiding me; and basing me to go and make disciples of all men. That although he isn’t done with me yet, I have the opportunity to attempt to give mutually in our relationship. My portion is y time, talents, and ministry. My prize is my father’s eternal glory.”
It wasn’t about me anymore. It was about the glory of the one who had saved me. There was comfort in that transition. Above all…there was…
5. Freedom. Although he had been with me all of the days of my life, God set me free in the act of baptism. God reminded me of his faithfulness in the moment that I surrendered publicly.
It has been four years and four days since my baptism…and I have never looked back.