When I was eight years old I walked down the aisle of our church and professed my faith in Jesus, and I was baptized three weeks later. It was an incredibly significant day in the life of my family but for most of my life, I silently questioned whether either of these experiences was authentic.
Then a little over a year ago an old friend sent me an email that contained a testimony and one question -so what has God been doing in your life? I couldn’t answer it. I was baffled and it made me angry. At the time I couldn’t see that He had been doing anything. Some things had happened in my life that left me feeling betrayed and abandoned by God. And at a time when I should have run toward Him, I ran away and lived a life ruled by fear. Therapy, medications… nothing worked. I was afraid of everything. People, new places, and new experiences. I could not have walked in the door of Life Church. I couldn’t even walk out to my mailbox or open the door to a knocking neighbor. I hid in my home and went nowhere outside my home alone. I thought I had tried everything and there was no hope for me. However, that morning while sitting in my dining room floor, I began feeling such intense loneliness that I was pretty sure I was dying, I finally became desperate. Clinging to the testimony sent from an old friend, as the only hope I could see for me…I said a prayer and reached out to God. I asked for help and I asked for Him. Jesus helped me alright. On that day God set into motion what He had already started and things came together in a way that I would never be able to deny and can only describe as a miracle. Jesus rescued and saved me. I can say that I know it. On that day, He grabbed my outstretched hand and pulled me into His arms. Then the Holy Spirit took hold of me and began to speak to me, and we had an encounter that broke me and then changed me and healed me.
This past year God has changed me so much….but even after all He has done for me, I was still filled with so much pride that I wouldn’t even think about baptism. I didn’t want to put myself out there and do something so public and outside my comfort zone. So I put His command in my hand, and I closed it. And God has been incredibly loving and patient with me. However, the Holy Spirit started speaking to me a couple of months ago when I walked up to this altar, and I said “More God, I want more”….and you know what He said? “Me too- Open your hands.” And He started using the Wednesday night Bible study and the service of a few weeks ago. On that day, I didn’t go to the altar but not because I didn’t need the Holy Spirit to do a work in me. I didn’t go because I was ashamed that I was still hesitating. Pastor Sammy and others were talking about revival and repentance. I was scared and just wanted to run and hide- because I knew I was part of the problem. God had told me specifically what to do, and I hadn’t. But instead of running something in me once again asked for help. And He said “open your hands or you are just pretending to serve me.” That hit me hard and I felt incredible sorrow. I mean He died for me and I say I love Him. I have to thank God for that sorrow because although it was excruciating at times, I again found myself changed and opening my closed hand became not just the fulfillment of a command but a way that I could show Jesus that do give Him back my love and my life. It is something I now want to do.
So today I stand here and I can say with all my heart that I trust Christ and put my faith in Him alone. To me faith is believing that God is here right now and that everything comes from His hands, even sorrow- not by anger but by mercy and love and in fulfillment of His will. And no matter what He ever asks me to do or allows me to go through; I never again need to live in fear because He will never abandon me to go through it alone. And today I will follow the example and command of Jesus, and I will be baptized.