April 13th, 1998. I was baptized. It’s hard to believe I’ve been a Christian for 14 years! In some ways, that feels like a long time, and in some ways it feels like “that’s it?” I feel like I’ve been on this journey a lot longer and a lot shorter a period of time simultaneously.
It’s interesting to hear people now tell me how they see me or what they think about me. People say they can’t imagine me being angry or upset about anything. Ha! They can’t imagine that anything bothers me. I have such an optimistic outlook on things. How come I always have faith that things will work out?
If they’d known me before this journey! I think I wouldn’t be recognizable to some of them. For instance, I used to throw or hit things when I was angry (a clock that wasn’t working, a TV that wasn’t showing clearly). I got into physical fights with people more than I care to mention. I was extremely arrogant about my intelligence. I wasn’t fond of most people. I didn’t like to be touched. I was a pessimist. I was a kid.
While some people may attribute many of the changes in my personality to just “growing up,” I can say that a lot of the changes in my life came as a result of walking this Christian journey. I also avoided a lot of pitfalls prevalent in my neighborhood because of my faith as well. It’s like the Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken.” I can’t really tell you what would have happen if I’d taken another road, could I? The way life works, I’ll never be in that same place again, having to make a choice between those same things. But I know what was/is the norm and how other people, equally smart and with good common sense but not Christians, fared. I know people who aren’t bad people and who seemed to be equal to me in all ways except Christianity get wrapped up in things that they can’t seem to break free from, that just keep dragging them down. There but for the grace of God go I. I would like to think I would just be more focused than they were, I would have more sense, I would know better, but I know I probably wouldn’t. I’m almost certain I wouldn’t. In some areas, being honest, I KNOW I wouldn’t have done any better. That’s how I know that I didn’t just “grow up” or “grow out of” being a certain way, but that by following God, I changed my destiny.
I can also state for a surety that many of the challenges I have faced are a result of my faith. There are things that just wouldn’t be a problem for me if I wasn’t trying so hard to live a Christian life. At least in an earthly sense, many times I would have been a lot better off if I wasn’t going down the narrow way.
I’m not an angry person now. It takes a lot to make me angry (I’m still working on how much it takes to make me irritated, LOL). I have curbed my enthusiasm for throwing things. I am the friendly one who gives everyone a hug at church and wants to know how everyone is doing. I’m the optimist. I am beginning to realize the difference between suffering the consequences of bad decisions and suffering persecution or having my faith tested.
I’m nowhere near the end of my journey. If God sees fit to let me continue to live another 80 years, I still won’t have my life perfect. I am one of those Oscar Nominees that is just happy to be nominated. I’ve already had the opportunity to become so much better than I ever would have been able to be on my own. I have the chance of making Heaven my home when this life is over. I am in it; I have a chance to win it.
I could quote a bunch of scriptures here on the essentiality of water baptism, of what God’s church looks like, of all the sinful things that would keep us out of Heaven if we didn’t repent of them, but I think that I would like to leave you with a simple verse and a simple admonition: Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). God rewards those that dilligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). I would encourage you to read the Bible and to seek God for yourself. I personally like Acts. It tells you very simply in the second chapter what you must do and why, and throughout the book, everyone who is saved has to do the same thing. I believe that if you are truly seeking God, He will find you and lead you to where you should be.
Well, I’m off to church in a little while. I hope that everyone has a great day and is starting off a stellar week!