I was first baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist church a little over eight years ago, at the age of fourteen. God had done remarkable things in my life and I felt that it was time for me to baptized. God had rescued me, a lost, willfully sinful and stubborn human being, and had given me trials that clearly showed me my desperate need of Him. I responded to those trials with a spirit of surrender to and cooperation with God. What victories I had through Him! I loved Jesus very much.
When I was first baptized, my heart was not fully open to sharing love and fellowship with others; also I did not fully understand what it meant to be a sinner, nor why Jesus had to die nor what God’s grace is really about . What I did know was that God had saved me from a desperately dark valley. I think that my main motivation for getting baptized back then was this text : “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:5 (KJV) https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/John-3-5/
On the day of my first baptism, fear gripped me. I was a private person who did not always enjoy sharing those things which were close to my heart with others.The thought of being baptized in front of my church family terrified me.
I believe that I played the piano for Sabbath school; whether I played for Song Service or for Special Music, I don’t remember. What I do remember was that God was speaking to my heart and begging me to leave my fears behind. I didn’t listen.During the time that I was being voted into the church and during my actual baptism, I chose not to make eye contact with my church family.
I fell into depression for months after my baptism. My depression continued and continued. It was complex, dark, and bothersome. Rays of light sometimes burst through my storm clouds, but those same dark clouds always gathered again. Throughout this time though, God gave me touching glimpses of His loving character, and I wrote some beautiful songs (which I still need to finish).
Finally one night, I had officially had enough. I cried out to God, telling Him that I could not bless others while I was so depressed. God spoke to me, not audibly, but I definitely know to this day that He did speak to me. He told me that I did not understand His love for me. I didn’t. I can’t tell you exactly what happened, but I know that I began to cry and that a beautiful relief came over my heart. My depression lifted and it has never come back in that fashion. Sure, I’ve had many sad times, sometimes very sad times, due to various struggles in my life, but never again have I dealt with the oppressive grief, and the dark, ominous shadow that hovered over me for so many months during my fourteenth and early fifteenth years of life. All I can say is, ” praise God!”
Fast-forward eight years… The Lord has been with me through so many ups and downs in my life. He has truly done a deep work on my heart.
Last year, I had some experiences that revealed Christ to me in a way in which I had never known Him before. After getting myself into an intemperate situation,(probably because I was not fully surrendered to God’s will and did not walk in the path that He had set out for me), God in His mercy used the situation to teach me about grace and to deepen my understanding of His Cross.
I was taking ~fifteen credit hours of college classes and unexpected challenges arose in my life which forced me to both ask for and to accept help from other people. I did not like accepting much help from people; I preferred to be self-sufficient. However, in the midst of my challenging situations, there were truly no decent options for me outside of benefiting from the help of kind brothers and sisters in Christ. My heart began to soften as I experienced such self-sacrificing love.
Three of my five classes that semester were online, and both of my traditional classes had online homework assignments. I did not have Internet at home at the time, and I also had not mastered taking online classes. If this sounds like a hard situation, you’re right- it was. I was amazed and offended by the grace I received from professors as I struggled along. I’m sorry to say that I was offended, but I was. I didn’t like grace. I tended to believe that I was self-sufficient, but I discovered that I wasn’t. However, my heart continued to soften as I experienced grace.
I would sense God telling me, ” I’m going to give you more grace”, and I would respond “No!” (even though I was secretly appreciative ). As I recall, every time I had that impression, I would receive grace: mercy that I didn’t deserve. God is so good!
During this same semester, I met a wonderful Christian girl at my school. Through spending time with her, I began to take the study of God’s word more seriously than I ever had before. God’s Word is fascinating, and we can understand it with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
The combination of all of these experiences drove me to the foot of the cross where I discovered my desperate need of a Savior and received glimpses of the beauty of Christ’s love and mercy: but this was just the beginning. There were trials that followed.
The next two semesters found me plunged into a state of moderate despair. My sins loomed large in my mind, and I did not understand how much help I could receive from Christ in conquering my fear of surrendering all. I did not understand how to find my way out from under this load of guilt and grief.
God ended up taking me to a youth conference where I finally heard and understood the beauty of the message of Isaiah 58 ( I will make a post on this in a couple of weeks). God revealed so much to me as a result of my attending this youth conference. He is so good!
A time of great happiness followed, as I eagerly surrendered to God’s will and cooperated with His plans. Even my physical health improved! I had found what my soul was craving.
Again, I went through a dark valley where I saw my sinfulness and my desperate, desperate need of a Savior. In addition to being keenly aware of my sinfulness, I was becoming enthralled with the mercy and the self-sacrificing love of Jesus. How I longed to be like Him!
To make a long story short, I reached out to some mature, godly adults and confided in them about my experiences and then asked them whether they thought that it would be appropriate for me to be rebaptized, either privately or publicly. With a heart filled with solemnity and joy, I was publicly rebaptized into the Seventh-day Adventist church last Sabbath, October 19, 2019. What a blessing!
At this baptism, I made eye contact with the audience. I was not afraid. I thought of others, and I was grateful to God for the beautiful work that He has done in my life. I am determined to be more consecrated to God now than I ever was before and to live in a state of total surrender and dependence on Christ.
I’m so thankful to God for not giving up on me. His mercy and His love mean so much to me. I am also grateful to the people who allowed God to use them in teaching me about His self-sacrificing love and mercy.
To God be the glory! I am so grateful to be His forever work in progress. Don’t you want to be His work in progress too?
Photo credit: Photo by Matt Hardy from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/body-of-water-under-blue-and-white-skies-1533720/