I have always greatly valued what other people thought of me. Sometimes—okay, often—I valued those opinions over what I thought about myself. It’s a very common thing to do—almost as common as tying your shoes or reciting the ABCs. But what is troublesome about this in my story is that, often, I let the opinions of others shape who I was to become. And over time, I not only let others’ truths become my own, but I truly thought that nothing was wrong with this way of living. It wasn’t until I had suffered great loss and had succumbed to the many addictive negative behaviors as a way to cope with the gaping hole in my heart that I began to realize that I had no idea who I was anymore. And because I had done an amazing job of letting others dictate my every thought and action, I was completely paralyzed with fear. I never in my life had felt so alone.
But then, one day, I heard a voice that was urging me to try a different way of living; a life that I never knew existed before this moment. It was the voice of God asking me to listen and to trust and to believe. It was the voice of the Spirit declaring that, regardless of what I have been through, I have always been, and always will be, enough.
It was the voice of a Father asking His child to come home.
Of course, I was terrified. For someone who has always depended on the world to define her identity, being asked to surrender that to a God I had just begun to know was the most frightening thing I had ever been asked to do. But I did. I said, “Yes” anyway. And it has been the absolute best decision of my life. And it will always be the best decision that I could ever make.
Listening to Steve’s sermon on baptism brought me back to my own Paul moment, when I decided to get in the water and declare my love for Jesus. As I was coming out of the baptismal, I felt like a phoenix being raised from the ashes. And in a way, that is exactly what happened. God took one look at me, saw the mess that I had made with my life, and decided to give me grace anyway. That is what Jesus did when He went to the cross for us, and that is what we do each and every day that we choose Faith over fear. By choosing to get baptized, we are deciding to stare this world in the face and dismiss its falsities; we are declaring that we are enough because our Father has given us eternal life despite our imperfections. And we are honoring His purpose for a faithful and loving world. All we have to do is say, “Yes.” Say Yes.
Steve stated that baptism is God’s gift to us—our own personal Red Sea moment. That we are all slaves to sin, but baptism makes us servants to righteousness. I am forever grateful for my gift. While all of us have the ability to obtain this gift, like snowflakes, no two faith journeys are the same. We all have stories to tell, and all are important threads woven into the fabric that is God’s masterful tapestry. No matter what part we play, we matter to our Father, who has always loved us just the way we are. And by being baptized, we have the opportunity to thank Him for that unconditional love and to show the world the exact moment when we were set free.
For those who are planning to get baptized this weekend, Welcome Home. We love you already.