My parents did a great job with me. They brought me up in a loving environment and our family was "religious" from the start. Unfortunately, it was the "religious" part that started to grate on my parents and on me as the years went by. I was baptized as an infant (Lutheran) and brought up to go to Sunday School, youth group, confirmation class, the whole deal. Quite honestly, I know for certain that my parents encouraged me in these activities with the best of intentions. Behind the scenes, I was asking questions about God that weren't being answered and my parents were frustrated with all the red tape involved in the particular church we were attending. We were derailed by "religion" and before I knew it, Sundays were just another day on the calender.
I had the foundation for faith poured, but the house never got built.
God started to grab a hold of me when my relationship with Evan got serious, but even then I wasn't fully ready to accept the grace He was offering. I liked Evan's church and felt comfortable there, enough that we got married there, but I still felt like I was going through the motions. In fact, in the midst of trying to restart my faith, my personal choices were bankrupting my heart. I was living a double-life that left me feeling empty and fake.
After Evan and I were married, we were struggling. And by struggling I mean we were miserable. I thought for sure we were on the fast track for divorce court, but we sought the council of some people we love who also love Christ. They gave us solid, hard advice that sent us to church and to our knees in front of the Lord. It wasn't easy, but it was a start.
Fast forward several years and my faith was still just a kind of "Admit One" ticket to Heaven that I carried in my pocket, presumably stamped with my pass for admission because I had put my faith in Christ as my Savior. I still didn't get it.
My moment came when I invited my neighbors over for a little girls' night last December. I made gluten free brownies for Auna and had gifts ready to go for both of them as a small token of my thanks to them for welcoming me into their circle of church friends and for being so kind to our family. Before I knew it, God blew into that room like a hurricane and I was pouring out some painful stuff that I really had no business unloading on two women I hadn't really come to know well enough to reach that level in our friendship. As the tears streamed down my face and my words finally stopped spewing out of my mouth, I heard the words that changed everything:
"Sarah.....can we pray for you?"
So simple. So easy. They put their hands on my shoulders and I listened while they prayed for me and for my family. I'm not going to go into detail about the things I spoke of and what they prayed for simply because it's just a bit too private to toss out on the Internet, but believe me when I tell you there were some very specific things that were making my heart heavy that my friends laid at the feet of God.
They showed me Jesus that night and for the first time, I recognized him too. Over the next several months, the prayers of that night were answered in ways I could never have imagined and my life and my family have been transformed. Now, one year later, my heart and mind have undergone a makeover of eternal proportions and I'm ready to take the next step.
It's funny how obvious it becomes when God really, really wants you to do something. Suddenly verses about it are practically leaping off the pages of your Bible and slapping you in the face. Pastors are suddenly preaching about it using words that seem to be written just for you. And when you're really being stubborn, there might even be a video montage about it being projected on an enormous screen during the last worship song on a Sunday that you just happen to go to church all by yourself and you end up with tears cascading down your cheeks and a random old woman comes to sit down next to you and asks.....get this......
"Can I pray for you?"
No joke, friends.
So I'm going to chose to listen, to respond, to obey.
I'm getting baptized in February.
Because I am ready, because I need to put the sinful self to death in the water and be brought back up as a new creation, and because God is telling me to. The water sprinkled on me as an infant was a wonderful tradition that I am grateful I was given, but this is my responsibility to do now. In the time of Jesus and in the years of the early church, new believers were baptized immediately after accepting Jesus as Lord as the outward, physical representation of their new life in Christ. Only Jesus offers salvation, but baptism is an act of obedience.
For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. (Colossians 2:12, NLT)
So, that's my news. If you are a local friend or family member who would like to join us in celebrating, email me for the specifics. For my blog friends and family, would you mind saying a prayer of praise to God for bringing me to this point? I know it's going to be a wonderful experience!
Without creating a big doctrinal baptism debate, feel free to comment about your baptism experience or perhaps that of someone you know. Any amazing stories? Funny ones?