For the past couple of years, I’ve been thinking a lot about baptism. It’s been a struggle trying to admit to myself that I’ve sinned, and just thinking about the shame over my sin has made me realize, “why don’t I follow a God that forgives all my sin?”
Something that brought me closer to God is thinking about what Christ did for me on the cross, and wondering why he would love me enough to DIE for all my sins. Another thing is, Terra Nova has impacted my life a lot, both my time in Quest and just listening to the sermon upstairs. Lastly, I just wanted to talk about what baptism means to me! Baptism is a wonderful symbol that shows friends and family that you have put Jesus Christ into your heart and honestly, I think that is beautiful!
As far back as I can remember, I understood in Sunday School that God loved me and I learned that Jesus died for my sins to make me righteous. But at that time, I didn’t really desire to follow God and I didn’t want to listen to my parents most of the time. If my parents told me that I needed to change my attitude, I didn’t because I didn’t think my attitude was a problem, and therefore, I didn’t want to fix it.
Later on we moved to New York just before I turned 12. I don’t remember a specific time when I decided to follow Christ, but after moving to New York I started to have a greater awareness of God and desire for Him and his people. I remember for the first time, thinking about how God loved me and how he was blessing me with a new home and new friends. I knew that God blessed me through Mr. Hopkins as he let me row with Augustine Classical Academy and participate in other sports. And I knew that God was blessing me through Terra Nova. After attending Terra for a few months, I asked my parents if I could take communion. Taking the bread and the wine every Sunday was important to me. I loved that I could understand and follow along what Pastor Daniel was saying during the sermon and I enjoyed that I could discuss it. I felt the desire to engage in spiritual discussions more than ever.
My family and Tribe have helped me grow in understanding about how to think of others. If I’m being rude or self-centered, my parents bring it up and remind me what God says, then I desire to change what I’m doing and repent. I now desire to think of others -something that took a great deal of time to develop. Two years ago, our family joined other families in starting a new Tribe. The conversations with my parents and our conversations in Tribe have been helpful to me. I enjoy hearing what people have to say when discussing the Bible. I enjoy adding to the discussion. I know I am a valuable part of the Tribe and that the other believers in the Tribe don’t think less of me because I’m not an adult.
Though I see signs of my faith, there are areas that I still need to grow in. I struggle with knowing what my motives are. Sometimes, I’m not sure if I’m desiring to think of others to please Christ or just to make myself a better person. Always trying to have fun, even at the expense of others, can be a struggle and an idol for me. Through conversations with my parents and at Tribe, I’m learning that being in the Kingdom means happiness and fun comes through thinking of others, following Christ, and in other ways that I normally wouldn’t think of. I struggle with understanding how suffering and death fits with a loving God. I also struggled with knowing if I should get baptized when I have friends that are more spiritually mature than I am but haven’t been baptized yet. Listening to Brittany’s testimony at her baptism last year was helpful to me and assured me that I don’t need to be super spiritually mature to be baptized. I understand it is OK if I want to get baptized out of my desire to honor and obey God. I want to be baptized as part of following Jesus.
Although I grew up in Christian home, the reality of sin and consequences due to sin never really hit me until May of 2021 when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and a few months later in July with the passing of a close friend. Both of these occurrences ultimately lead back to the sin in our world. Although I knew God as my savior for the majority of my life, with ups and downs throughout it, I could really start to see Him moving and His presence in my life in the past 5 weeks. As my dad began to lose his hair due to treatments and as I stood on the side of the road watching my friend become surrounded by emergency vehicles and flashing lights, I felt a peace fall over me and felt confident and reassured that I could count on Him to redeem even the worst things. The sin that I had become too accustomed to had trapped me inside a world that I couldn’t get out of on my own, but because Jesus died for me, I am able to have a new life and have all my sins washed away. As soon as we started coming to Terra, I was surrounded with people who loved God and wanted me to as well. So many people came alongside me to answer my questions and help me through hard times while shining God’s light into my life without knowing it. I was able to see how God worked in so many people’s lives and now am able to see how He is working in mine.
Baptism is an outward demonstration of an inward reality and a physical way of being brought into the body of Christ. Because of the ultimate death, when we enter into the body of Christ we are able to have eternal life with God. We are called to be baptized as a commitment to follow and trust Christ for eternity and as a symbol of being washed of our sins. When I felt the heavy burden of sin being lifted from me, I knew I wanted to be baptized. “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, call on his name” Acts 22:16