Read First: Moving In
[New love and a new life]
While becoming a Christian wasn’t sudden fireworks going off, I did feel pretty wonderful about it; a weight had been lifted, and I knew I’d given Andrew some peace of mind that he’d likely been waiting for. He phoned his parents without delay to share the good news, and in his excitement I was even overjoyed. I felt that I was making the right choice for my life, and I had a peace in my heart that I now chalk up to no longer fighting against God. For many years after though I felt guilty that I’d put Andrew first, and that God had come in second in this deal.
At that time in my life though, I really didn’t know much about God. I admired Andrew’s love for Him, and I learned over the years, through walking through those very years, that faith and a relationship with Jesus is a process, not a moment. In my early years as a Christian I had a rough time understanding so many things. I constantly beat myself up, and felt as if perhaps I was just a poor excuse for a Christian. My Mother-in-Law invited me to many Women’s Ministry events over the years that left me feeling confused. These women’s stories were heart breaking. How could they say that God was so good, while going through such painful experiences?
If I hadn’t chosen God to begin with, somewhere in those first five years I knew that I was choosing Him, and I would pray the prayer of salvation every time they recited it at church (You know, just to be sure that I was indeed saved, and that God knew I was choosing Him).
It took me five years before I was baptized. I’d wanted to get baptized for some time, but fear had always held me back (stage-fright and social anxiety really). I was quite shy, and I believed I couldn’t possibly stand up in front of everyone to give a testimony that I felt had no real oomph. I guess I thought you had to have some sort of revelation or some miraculous event occur for your story to have any real impact. At that point in this journey I couldn’t see that miracle–more than that, I was just so very insecure.
Fear prompted me to keep putting off my baptism, so as sign up came around, I continually rejected taking the plunge. Then one Sunday, as sign up came around once more I longed to get this out of the way. I wanted to do it, I just needed to get past that fear. When I originally wrote this I’d written that I thought to myself, “If I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.” That’s the way I remember it, but having many more years as a Christian behind me now, and having recognized when God is speaking, I believe those words were really God’s still small voice, and that it was more like, “If you don’t do it now, you’ll never do it,” and I believed it.
I then told Andrew I wanted to get baptized even though I still wasn’t sure how I’d ever manage the task. However, not unlike when Moses felt he couldn’t speak, and God gave him Aaron, our Pastor spoke a few words for me. I only had to answer a couple of simple questions, and then I was plunged into the water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I did feel a bit foolish that I wasn’t able to speak for myself, but I was glad that I went through with it anyways. Fear itself–I learned–is most often just a grand illusion, and those feelings of foolishness do fade.
It was after my baptism that I started to really grow in Christ, and I began to understand more and more as I read through Scripture. It didn’t happen over night, and there’s always so much more yet to learn, but I’ve come a long way in this journey. I can honestly say that I’m now one of those women who has, and is, testifying to how good God is even through the hard things.
I understand now why He is so good. What I mean to say– is that I Know who He is, what He’s done for us, as well as what He continues to do for us. I also understand how the hard stuff, and sometimes even suffering just can’t steal my joy. It can’t change my mind about who God is either, for He remains good through the good as well as the bad.
I could never have understood this without the journey though, and without the knowledge which has kept me growing closer to Him; nor without the Holy Spirit to help me navigate it all. If I’d never drawn close to Jesus, and learned to trust Him, I would still be blind to who He truly is, and the many other amazing things I’ve come to understand about God. I’m not who I was. In Jesus, I’m a new creation–something I’m not ashamed to say–unlike that young lady that once pushed it away, denied it, and didn’t want any part of religion.
I also learned that the only true religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is to help those in need and to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27) This is something I can get on board with. To me now, no longer being blind to the truth is the true miracle; something only God could do in me.