This morning I was baptized.
That sentence alone holds SO much more than I can go into in this post.
Some may ask “Why be baptized?” I had to think through that question myself the last few days. Aahh, the last few days. Just recollecting them brings me to why I decided to type this entry (despite the pain that is involved in typing).
The e-mail that included our instructions for baptism said, “Pastor Brent will most likely ask you why you want to be baptized”. I admit to some panic rising when I read that. I didn’t think I’d actually have to say anything. The issue was that my being baptized was a complicated process. The spiritual journey I have travelled has been difficult, exciting, debilitating, and a host of other adjectives that could be applied. This wasn’t even my first baptism. How could I explain in one sentence why I was wanting to do this? The bottom line was I knew God wanted me to do this. I knew in August that God had called me to take this step–this time for the right reason, that reason being to declare that I finally got it.
I had to make public the fact that so many years I had pretended to be this Christian person. It was an easy thing to fake, really. I knew so much about the Bible, I could enter into a theological discussion with ease. The problem was, all that information filled my head, but none of it filled my heart. I had Jesus in my head, but I had not given Him my life. I didn’t know the difference until a little more than a year ago. I had prayed a prayer many times but only with my lips–never with my heart. God had been trying to get my attention for a long time and I was as stubborn as one can be. It took some intense trials and the almost loss of my marriage to make me see that I had fooled everyone–including myself–for many years.
That ended officially last November when I was finally at the point that I had to make a decision. I was either going to do things God’s way or I was going to completely walk away from Him forever and do things my way. I wrestled with that decision for a few months prior to November. I had witnessed God save a marriage doomed to divorce and wondered why He even cared about me. I pestered the wonderfully patient pastor of the church we had been attending for a couple months. He was lovingly honest with me–something no one had ever been with me before. His words angered me, yet they also got me thinking hard about where I stood with God. In November, I stopped fighting God and surrendered to Him 100%. In the eleven months since that day, I have allowed God to do some very painful work in my life–overcoming a past that few know about. A past I used to be very ashamed of, and while I don’t go around bragging about those things, I now trust that He WILL use those things for His glory somehow. Joy was never a part of my vocabulary or my life until the last few months…and I can’t help but want to tell everyone what God has done for me.
The days leading up to this morning, though, have been some very difficult ones. I battled severe depression and discouragement. I was frustrated with life and frustrated with myself for allowing depression and discouragement to once again creep in and wreak havoc on my emotions. It wasn’t until just moments before my baptism that I thought about how much satan would love for me to NOT follow through on this step of obedience. I wonder if much of my depression and discouragement was because I forgot to put on my spiritual armor?
Thankfully, satan did not win. As much as part of me was so scared to get in that water, God gave me the strength to do so. Not only that, I was blessed to have my husband–the man who almost walked out of my life for good just over a year ago–help baptize me. The physical pain afterwards from the cold water affecting the nerve endings in my right hand (with the brace not being on to alleviate some of that since I couldn’t get it wet) was pretty intense. Tears came soon after I got out of the pool. Even in the midst of that pain, though, I was filled with joy for what God has done and continues to do in my life. The road is not always easy, but I am okay with that knowing I do not have to walk it alone. I am changed!! And I want everyone to know that. The song by Rascal Flatts keeps playing through my mind:
“I’m changed for the better, more smiles, less bitter…
I hit my knees now I here I stand, There I was now here I am….changed.”