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New Birth to New Life (Part 2)

"Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life." -Romans‬ ‭6:4‬ ‭CSB‬‬

My baptism with water was on Wednesday, August 26, 2020. It was at my in-law's home on the lake during a breathtaking sunset sky. 

The previous Saturday (4 days prior), I had an urgency come over me like I can't even explain. I knew it was time to make my new life public, to make my testimonial loud and clear. But, to be honest… I felt prompted earlier in the spring to be baptized. I didn't do it. I had a reason that held me back at the time, but that doesn't matter now. I didn't respond to the prompting of the Spirit then. But God kept pursuing it and didn't let it go. Here's what happened.

The Urgency

I finally sent my Pastor a text on Sunday after her online sermon; I had to be baptized NOW! Because she knows me and has witnessed the change in my life, she understood why I felt anxious waiting until the next Sunday. Seven days may not seem so dramatic to some people, but I am not kidding when I say I wanted to be baptized that very second. And lucky for me, Pastor Joy wasn't about to stand in the way of what I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to do. She immediately met with me that Sunday evening after dinner to talk about the meaning of baptism and to be sure I understood what it was all about. My husband came with me — he's on his own journey about that decision — and we talked for a long time about the press in my spirit and how I knew for a while this was what God was calling me to do. She then agreed to baptize me at the lake in front of anyone who could make it with such a last-second notice. The urgency was real because the moment I knew Wednesday could work, a peace came over me that was surreal. I knew it was time to make God's story known. I knew it was time for me to hold my head up high in Jesus' name and publicly glorify my Savior. 

There's Fish in the Water

There's nothing special in the water during a baptism. I mean, for my baptism: there were fish and many other critters. That does come with the package when choosing to have your baptism in a lake. However, there's no "magic" in the water. The water does not transform me, as my Pastor said during my baptism. Christ has already transformed me. Baptism doesn't necessarily promise to make me feel any different after the fact. If I went into it thinking I would be changed once I came up from the waters, then I am not sure I would have been ready to be baptized. I don't say that to be mean, but as my Pastor reminded everyone present, my transformation already happened on February 6, 2020. The water was a visible reminder of death to my old life and being raised to a new life in Christ; the water represented the cleansing I received in Jesus, and my baptism was solely to give glory to Jesus Christ, my Savior. 

My Story is His Story

Like most, my life was all about me. How this or that affected me. However, everything was leading up to this moment in my life where I now know it is truly about giving glory to God. How He was there for me, holding me through all the sexual, verbal, and physical abuse. He never even turned His back on me when I lived a life full of sin without repentance. HE took everything terrible and turned it for good! He brought me out of the slavery of my abuse and sin. And in HIS name, and through His power, He saved me! He carried me and loved me through it. 

And don't you dare say to me, "If God is so great, why would He let these terrible things happen to you? Why didn't He stop it?" Nuh-uh, don't you speak that doubt. Not my God, not about my Father! He did not do a single thing to me; men did. God takes a lot of slack for human error, but that stops now if I have anything to say for it. It was my story of abuse, hurt, and pain, but now it's another beautiful story to glorify God and Jesus' blood on the cross. 

I Am His Vessel

My journey with God these past eight months have been the most incredible experience in my life. Before my baptism this summer, God was doing some work in me. The main one that I truly love is when I hear His whispers. No, not "literally" out loud voice, but that beautiful moment when I am engrossed in Scripture and *snap* – a thought pushes into my mind. And, even when I do not want to obey, I listen, and the "chills" never fail to show themselves when the good Lord lets me see what He did with my obedience. 

He has used me in ways that may seem mundane to some, but have meant so much to the people I have been obedient to address. God has chosen me to be His vessel. Those stories are for them to share, but, through them, I got to see how incredible the Holy Spirit truly is as well. He wasn't just helping them; He used them for me to see how God likes to use imperfect people to do His Work through. My heart is forever grateful, and I pray I remain obedient whenever He wants to use me. 

God, My Father, My Best Friend, the One My Soul Loves

If you watched my baptism, you see me lean over to my Pastor and say, "I'm honestly speechless right now,… for the first time in my life!" We laugh about that because if you know me, you KNOW I'm a talker. But honestly, God's love renders me without adequate words to articulate His goodness. How do you describe a love like this? The aftermath of forgiveness? Let me sum it up with a text message I sent a friend before my baptism. 

"But now I can feel it when I go longer than 24 hours (without reading the Bible). My soul and heart crave it. Reading the Bible is not just a checklist anymore; its a necessity. Like oxygen in my lungs to breathe. God has become my best friend throughout this journey, and I truly feel disoriented without Him in my life daily."

I sent that text to a good friend on Saturday, August 22, 2020, at 1:11 pm. We were discussing the importance of being in God's Word every day.

So what words can I use to explain my love for our God? He is the air I breathe, the oxygen in my lungs. He is the peace in my anxious thoughts. He is the hope when I am lost. He is my comforter when I am scared, and the nourishment of my soul. I crave Him daily, not just as a want, but a genuine NEED for my soul. He is my Father, my eternal Best Friend. For some reason, He wants to be apart of every aspect of our lives, even the most simplistic. He has shown that to me lately because He is so good and loves us all so much. Who am I to deserve a love like this? I am a child of God, and He is my Father, my best friend, and the one who my soul truly loves (Song of Solomon 3:4). 

New Birth to New Life: The "Every Single Day" Challenge

Baptism is not a magical potion. POOF! I'm forgiven and free, and there's nothing left to do! I see it ultimately as the opposite. Now is when the real work begins. Now is when I hold myself accountable for being the salt and the light for Jesus (Matthew 5:13-16). I am human, and I will mess up. But the point will be to keep trying. The same urgency I felt to be baptized I NOW realize is the urgency to make God's story known to everyone and bring as many people as possible to God's light. It's a feeling so deep in the core of my bones that I have a kingdom responsibility -- to help people know they don't have to be lost to the darkness, to never let a child not know they are truly loved. To point everyone to know where to go to find that love. The trustworthy Word of life, the Bible. All we need is provided by His hand, through instruction from His Word. It's where I want to be every single day. And my goal is to put Him first every single day. To seek God first in all that I do. Like the title of Mike Donehey book, "Finding God's Life for my Will," I want that to be the title of my life in whatever way God sees fit. "His presence is the plan" for me too. Even in the mundane, I want to seek Him first!

"Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts." - ‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:7-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

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