I’m not really sure where to begin writing, so I’m just going to start. I’m not the greatest with talking about my emotions, but I’m gonna give it my best shot 🙂 As some of you know, on Sunday May 5th, I was baptized at Apex Community Church in Kettering, OH. Most of you also know that I’ve been a professing Christian for as long as I can remember. This post is not to negate that necessarily, but to tell you what the condition of my heart was and what it is now.
Being brutally honest…
To be completely honest, the past year, my heart has been relatively apathetic towards the Lord. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to go to church or do my quiet time, it was that I just didn’t care. Good ole fashioned apathy. But at the beginning of this semester, something within me changed. I began to realize my apathy, and as I did that, I began to question the character of the Lord. I had begun my Teach for America prework, which required me to complete a series of readings, and I was doing that I was reminded over and over just how screwed up the world is. I wasn’t sure what to do with the realization that the world is becoming worse and worse, even though people are actively fighting to improve it. I could feel my heart hardening and my spirit growing angry–I did nothing to stop it.
At the same time, I was taking a Personal Evangelism class and our first assignment was to write about our testimony. As I began writing, I was reminded how far I was from the Lord and how little I desired Him–and to be honest how much I questioned my own belief. The professor, Rob, told me after class that if I ever wanted to talk, he’d more than happy to meet with me. Although I dismissed it at the time, I remembered his offer and a couple of weeks later, we met in his office.
To be honest, I don’t really remember what we talked about at our first meeting, but I remember the feelings that were stirred in my heart. I knew that I needed to seek the Lord and present myself before Him, but I also knew that my pride and unwillingness to forgive several people were holding me back. Throughout the next several weeks, I began to realize that my unwillingness to come before the Lord came out of a general aura disbelief.
Looking at the world around me, I couldn’t imagine how a perfect, good, powerful God would let it exist the way it did. Here’s what I wrote in an email to Rob right around Easter: “I can’t believe in a god who is either incompetent or a hypocrite. God is just? Oh right, that’s why so many orphans die each day. God is a provider? That must be why so many people will go to bed hungry tonight. God will never leave you? Yep…he’s definitely with each girl while her body is being used and abused. God is our father? Surprise! Most fathers actually try to shield their children from hurt and pain. Oh wait…silly me. This is all a result of the fall, because that was the best that an all-powerful god could do.”
I had decided that I would continue faking it my belief, but that after graduating from my Christian university, I would no longer identify myself as a Christian. In the same email to Rob, I wrote: ” I can be perfectly moral on my own. I don’t need someone telling me every single time I make a mistake. I’d like to live my life doing the best that I can, rather than doing my best and always being reminded that it’s not good enough.” I concluded the email by telling him that I no longer wanted or needed his prayers (or the prayers of his church staff), but that he could save them for someone who would appreciate them more than I would.
Rob didn’t listen to that last part of the email; he continued to pray and care for me. About three weeks after writing him that email, my spirit became absolutely broken. After a few poor decisions, I realized that on my own I am not who I would like to be. The pride and selfishness in my heart, that comes so naturally, became so very clear to me. One Saturday night, I found myself sitting in a pew at Apex Community Church, looking for some kind of remedy. After talking with me for a few minutes, Rob told me if I was serious, to come by his office the following Monday.
An encounter with grace…
Sure enough, Monday morning I was in Rob’s office, and for the first time I truly understood God’s grace. Grace means that no matter what kind of decisions I make, no matter how selfish my actions, no patter how prideful my heart, God still loves me. The brokenness in the world is not a reflection of God’s failure, but of man’s desperate need for him. The fact that we see injustice and pain, and recognize it as wrong, is a reflection of grace. My inability to ever be ‘good enough’ to earn my salvation is a reflection of grace. Grace means that even when they are unwanted, God works through the prayers of the faithful. The Holy Spirit did a work in my heart that morning, as I realized that I’d been blaming the wrong guy for the pain in the world and running from the one person who would make it right. Injustice is not who God is, it is not part of his design. So right then and there, I repented of my wrongdoings against God and placed Christ in the throne of my life.
The most beautiful moment…
Rob Turner’s sermon at Apex on Sunday was the most appropriate sermon I could have ever imagined for the day of my baptism. Basically, he speaking on Ephesians 1:7-10- The Blood of Christ and the Cosmic Plan of God. His main points were that the blood of Jesus displays his:
- Costly redemption from slavery & bondage: it is through the cross that i can comprehend the ugliness of sin and the beauty of Christ
- Complete forgiveness: it is through the cross that I can forgive others
- Bottomless grace: it is through the cross that I learn deep humility
- Divine wisdom: it is through the cross that I learn to trust him with the known and unknowns of my life
I think, for a majority of the sermon, I was sitting in my seat just overwhelmed by how much I’d experienced God’s redemption, grace, and forgiveness in the past 2 weeks alone. The whole time I wanted to stand up and shout, or dance, or cry.
At the end, of the service, shaking with excitement, I got into this tub with lukewarm water. It was there that I affirmed my testimony and belief in Christ as the only way to life. Next thing I know, I’m soaking wet and doing this weird laughing/crying/catching my breath combo. It was the most incredible feeling I have ever experienced.
Before and after the service, there were several people who came up to me and hugged me and spoke about how this testimony touched them. Not going to lie, it kind of freaked me out- (1) I’m not huge into hugging strangers and (2) I had no idea that my story could be so powerful, so quickly. Right before the service started, Rob asked me how it felt to not be under the weight of Melody, and let me tell you- it is amazing.
Hello My Name is____