Identifying with Christ

In keeping with the “Near-Chaos” theme of my life, in which things never quite line up perfectly (I like symmetry, so this really irks me sometimes), or  fall in the correct order (our “Five-Year Plan” was tossed a long, long time ago), or seem sensible in the short-run (gotta remind myself to look at the “Big Picture”), I’m using this space to announce my baptism last Sunday evening (May 23rd).  Actually, the announcement was made for me when a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook, so I thought I’d add clarification here for anyone who might be confused.

Some of you who have been my church family at different points throughout the past decade may be wondering if I am perhaps insane.  While the story certainly isn’t tabloid fodder, it is an account of God’s grace and faithfulness to bring me to a better understanding of His love for me through Christ.  Below is the testimony I wrote to be read to the congregation by a precious friend before I was baptized:

“Until recently, I had thought that I had come to know Christ as a nine-year-old, when I walked down an aisle, prayed with the preacher, and was baptized.  My family didn’t attend church often, so there was not a lot of follow-up and over time I became angry towards God.   When I was 17, David Alan [now my husband] and I began dating and he asked me to come to church with him.  That fall, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and I began to read the Bible and pray to God to heal him.  The day after my 18th birthday, I attended a youth conference and afterward, David Alan prayed with me as I rededicated my life to Christ.  For many years, I’ve struggled to understand whether I began to follow Jesus at age nine or at 18.  I have come to believe that at nine years old, I made a mental decision to pray a prayer, but that the Holy Spirit was not yet working in my heart, compelling me to place my trust in Christ.  I have come to believe that this was the case when I was 18.  God chose not to heal my dad, and only two months later he died.  I found great comfort during this time in the understanding that God is the Father who is ever-present.  Afterward, I found myself wanting to serve in some way at church and wanting to share Christ with those who did not yet know him.  Over time, I could see that a real change had taken place in my life and things did not seem as hopeless as they had before. 

Since I have recently come to the understanding that I did not truly know Christ until later in my life, I desire to be baptized as a believer.  Though I have been following Jesus for many years, now, I want to be obedient to my Lord and Savior and be baptized as he has commanded, identifying with Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection through the act of baptism.”

I had wondered so much about this over the years, until finally, recently, I began to seriously pray that God would lead me to the truth in this matter.  I also read a lot of Scripture and theology, and listened to many online sermons on the subject.   I desperately needed to put an end to these questions and better understand my own story of how I came to know Jesus.  Also, if I was older rather than younger, I recognized that my baptism was out-of-order and had come before I placed faith in Christ.  Believing that baptism adds nothing to salvation (Jesus did it all!), but is an act of obedience to Him to be done after beginning a relationship with Him, I knew that I needed to follow through with it.  I contacted our pastor and began discussing my situation with him, although I already knew what I needed to do. 

In the weeks that led up to my baptism, I experienced everything from fear, anxiety, excitement, peace, happiness, a desire to glorify God in any way necessary, and more terrifying fear (mostly as I tried to fall asleep at night).  However, after my baptism, as I hurriedly dried off, I knew a peace deeper than I could ever remember in the past and the sheer joy of knowing that God had faithfully brought me through such a difficult thing, and graciously provided me the strength to be obedient to His command. 

By the time the picture was posted online, I found myself praying that God would somehow be glorified by His faithfulness to me in my weird little situation.  Even if that meant that the picture would be posted to all of my Facebook friends’ news feeds.  Even if that meant that I would need to blog about it.

Sometimes obeying God means doing some seemingly crazy things . . .