Sometimes when I get in a place where everything feels good, I can get complacent.
Several years ago I was on depression medication and when I would start to feel good, I’d think I didn’t need the medication anymore. Once I quit taking it, my emotions spiraled out of control again. Complacency.
This morning when I woke up, I tried to convince myself that things are okay and I could take one week off of church and relax. Complacency.
Instead I did what I knew I needed to do and went to church anyway.
Walking through the parking lot into the church, I recalled how God usually moves most in my heart on the days I really don’t “feel” like being there. I had no idea today would be the extreme of that…
In the opening welcome, the pastor advised there would be baptisms at the end of the sermon and if anyone hadn’t signed up but felt it on their heart to be baptized, they had extra towels and t-shirts for after. I had been considering being baptized for a few months, but didn’t know the church’s standpoint on my situation. See, several years ago I was baptized, but that was when I had Jesus in my head but not in my heart. Now He is first in my life, and it’s truly a new life. So I had thought I should be baptized again, but didn’t know if that was appropriate.
Today’s sermon struck me because I’ve been really split on where I should be attending church. I’ve often thought this church is a starter church as the sermons are pretty surface based, but I always leave understanding how to apply it to my life today. The other church I attend digs into theology and I really enjoy that, but don’t always leave knowing how to apply it to how I am currently living, however I have experienced tremendous growth in both places. Today’s sermon didn’t clarify my confusion, but did offer me another way of thinking.
The pastor explained how when a newcomer comes in, someone further along on their journey comes along side of the newcomer and helps pull them into their spiritual growth – meeting people wherever they are on their journey and helping them into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ in order to change the world. But sometimes we, as growing consumers forget to look back to the now-newcomer and do the same thing for them that we have had done for us.
At the end of the sermon, we went into baptisms. The pastor again stated if there was anyone there that had it on their heart to be baptized, but hadn’t signed up, they were welcome to just come up during the other baptisms.
The other baptisms consisted of a couple with their daughter. After the child was baptized, the woman got into the baptismal. Sitting there, she told my story. A story of a child of God who walked away, who fell into addictions and who is recently sober and walking free with God. I wept in my chair listening. I KNEW with no uncertainty that God had orchestrated this entire morning. However, I didn’t have the courage to get up and do what God was calling me. I thought it would be so awkward to just stand up in the middle of the baptisms and walk up, so I chose not to…even though I knew I was supposed to.
When the pastor was done with the baptisms, he paused and said “This is your last chance to step forward. If God is putting it on your heart to get baptized, this is your time.”
In my entire life I had never felt the presence of God like I did in this moment.
With my heart undoubtedly noticeably beating out of my chest and my hands and legs shaking like I’ve never experienced in my life, I stood. It felt like it took me 5 minutes to crawl over the congregation to get up to the front of this fairly small room.
Tears streaming down my face and snot bubbles forming at my nose, in my blue jeans and black Hawkeye t-shirt, I held some hands to keep myself steady while stepping up into the baptismal. The baptizing pastor called over another pastor to include him in the baptism as he has been instrumental through the course of my journey. With tears and love, grace and forgiveness, today I was baptized…washed white as snow.
And because the woman before me was obedient to God by following her call to be baptized, she reached back and pulled me along on my journey. And because of my obedience to respond to my calling of baptism, I spent a half hour after service ministering to a broken woman in the congregation who was me a year ago…pulling her along in her journey.
That’s how God works.
Every moment of this morning perfectly knitted together according to His Plan.
I cannot imagine where I would be right now if I had allowed complacency to keep me in my bed instead of showing up for His symphony.
I’m thankful I don’t have to.