Monday, September 9, 2013

My Life Long Journey With Christ

On Saturday, August 10 2013, at the age of  54, I was baptized. My baptism, which was long awaited and anticipated, was an incredible and joyous experience!! I feel blessed to be able to share my faith journey.

How is it that I had reached the age of 54 and had not yet been baptized, you might ask. First, I will tell you that I have always believed in Jesus, my entire life. I never doubted the existence of God, I was just very angry with him. I might even dare to say that at times I disliked him intensely. Shocking, isn’t it? More shocking still to admit it so publicly, but if I am to share my experience I must do so with total honesty.

I will not go into great detail about why I disliked God, why I resisted him at every turn, that’s not what this is about. I will tell you it had to do with several traumatic experiences that contributed to this anger. I spent many years with an attitude of resistance, and I was very unhappy with certain aspects of my life. I was searching for something, and I found it quite allusive. A few years ago, my daughter started sharing her faith journey with me. She had grown so strong in her faith, so close in her relationship with Jesus. I saw a new peace in her, I was so happy for her! About the same time, a friend also came in to my life who was very strong in his faith. As I talked with the two of them,  I slowly began to wish that I could have that kind of faith.

Two years ago I hit a point in my life where I could no longer deny I needed help. I was in an extremely stressful job, stressed at home, I was even stress at the gym which had always been my refuge. I cried daily, I wasn’t eating, my hair was falling out, I was overwhelmed. One day I walked into the cemetery and I sat down and started talking to God. I cried, said I couldn’t go on, I needed Him and didn’t want to fight it anymore, I was no longer able to carry my load alone. I begged for help, asked for Him to forgive my stubbornness and to take over, said I would take whatever path He wanted me to, follow Him anywhere.

I came out of the cemetery that day feeling compelled to take time to appreciate all things in nature as beautiful and as evidence of His love. I felt a particular pull to look at clouds, to find beauty and pleasure in them, in all their forms. I was forever taking pictures. Everywhere I went I was snapping pictures of flowers, trees, leaves, bits of bark, and clouds, mostly clouds. I literally had thousands of pictures of clouds, and was always eager to show them to friends and family. I would exclaim, "look at this one, isn't it beautiful?", I am sure my loved ones thought I had lost my mind!! But a new sense of calm came over me during this time, and also a undisputable knowledge that I had to build a closer relationship to God.

Throughout this time I still believed I could build a relationship with God without a formal church, religion, or baptism. How wrong I was!! I came to church just because my sister and her family were participating in the bell choir, I wanted to see them and support them. I was surprised to find I really enjoyed the service too!! Everyone was so kind and welcoming, and Pastor David’s sermon’s struck a cord deep within me. Often, I would sit there listening with tears running down my cheeks. Sunday services became a highlight of my week.

I was ready, I wanted to be baptized, I wanted and needed to make it official. My life was His to do with as He saw fit, no more resistance. I had wanted to be baptized at the lake last year, but I had the new job and could not get the weekend off. This year I became determined that nothing would stand in my way.

The day of the baptism was a beautiful day. My daughter had traveled from MD to VT in order to be there. I enjoyed the fellowship and the food, and was eager to be baptized. To me, everything seemed brighter, prettier, sweeter than normal. The grass was so green and soft on my bare feet, the sky a beautiful blue, the clouds so white and fluffy, the air smelled sweet, the food tasted delicious, and the voices raised in song seemed so clear, so joyous, so beautiful. I don’t know if everyone there shared this perception of the day, but it was what I experienced.  When it was time for baptism, Pastor David led us down to the water. We sang, and Leslie played his guitar. My sister and I walked side by side with our arms around each other. Steph sponsored me. Things that normally would have bothered me, and made me self conscious, no longer mattered. I had injured my back and hip earlier in the week, so I was awkward getting into the water. I didn’t care, I was getting baptized!!!! I was so caught up in the joy of the moment, I think I swallowed a gallon of lake water. I didn’t care, I was being baptized!!!! I was even more awkward and clumsy getting out of the water, I nearly fell. I didn’t care, I had just gotten baptized!!!! A myriad of emotions were running through me. I felt calm, peaceful, excited, joyful, relieved, happy, thankful, blessed, loved, and loving all at once.

I still feel all of those things whenever I think of that day, and whenever I think of God, and of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us!! I still have a long way to go in my faith journey, but I am excited about it!! I still have times when I try to direct, when I will say to Him “I will go wherever you want me to go, but please don’t send me here, or here”. I am coming to all of this as an adult, when many have these experiences in their infancy or youth. I am still growing in my faith, will continue to grow in my faith for the rest of my life. I never expected that my baptism would be my final arrival point on this journey, rather it is one of the first and most important steps. It will allow me to continue to grow closer to Him, to build on my faith, to follow Him wherever He may lead. It is a new beginning, a new life, a life where the lessons of the past are not gone or forgotten, but where they no longer hobble me or prevent me from being His servant. I eagerly anticipate the future, and the unfolding path that awaits.