It began a long time before Good Friday. It began when a baby was born 33 years ago. A baby born to a virgin and raised by a man who was not his father. He knew who his Father was and why he was born. He knew when he preached in temples as a child. He knew as he began his ministry when he was baptized. He knew, as his disciples joined him, he would be betrayed. He knew as he prayed in the garden that everything would be different very soon. He knew as he was lead before Pilot that it wouldn’t be much longer. He knew as he was being flogged that the pain wold pass away. He knew, as he carried the cross, that people were expecting more from him. He knew, as he hung dyeing, that his Father was crying. He knew, as people mocked, it was all part of the master plan. He knew it was finished. He knew he would rise again…He Knew
Easter 2009 was the one that changed my life. My friend, Diane, had invited me to join her family for Easter service at church and then lunch. Up until this point, I had been pretty adamant that church wasn’t for me and that I respected her faith but didn’t really want to hear about it. We had been friends for about a year by this point (maybe longer, I don’t know because it feels like there was never a time we WEREN’T friends) She asked me in passing one day at the office and I said yes. Mostly because it seemed like the right thing to do for Easter (my great granny would have been so proud)
I opted to take my own car and meet them there. This was so, if things got “weird”, I could casually excuse myself and leave. Well leaving casually wasn’t going to happen as they had taken seats down near the front. Nicely played 🙂 I remember feeling so out of place when I sat down. The church was FULL! I tried my best to look natural as I glanced around me. Diane was right beside me, her two kids beside her and her husband beside them. The service began. A few songs, some sitting and then some standing followed by more sitting. It seemed like a typical church service to me…until…
The back of the stage opened up and there was a guy wearing a white rob. I couldn’t see this but he was standing in a pool of water up to his waist. I remember thinking it would be rather unfortunate if the microphone fell off the stand into the water. Then someone joined him in the pool, also wearing a white robe. They exchanged some conversation about why they were there and what was going to happen. Then this person (I honestly can’t remember if it were a man or a women) read a story about their life. I couldn’t move! It was like they were telling everyone about MY life! Then they were dunked in the water and came back to the church cheering and clapping. Baptism … it was quite the event. There were four or five more people who shared a bit about themselves and how God had changed their lives. With every one of them more and more of my life was spoken into the room. With every one of them I began to feel something in my stomach. I didn’t dare look at Diane…although I feel like she might have been checking to see my reaction, I tried real hard not to give one! One by one they were baptized and people cheered, clapped, cried, took pictures…it really was quite moving.
After it was all over the curtains closed and there was more singing. A story about Jesus and the Cross. They had just added a new wall art piece that was a slate cave front with a stone rolled away. He talked about the meaning of the empty tomb. He talked about how Jesus died for MY sins. About how He wanted a relationship with ME. I felt like I might have been the only person in the room and the Pastor was talking directly to me. I felt my face get hot and I wanted to burst into tears. He KNEW!
He Knew I needed something more in my life than what I had. I needed to feel loved unconditionally, I needed to be forgiven. He KNEW I WANTED IT ALL!
At the end of his sermon he told everyone to close their eyes and bow their heads. He asked if there were people who WANTED this life. Anyone who WANTED to give it all to Jesus. I wanted to jump out of my skin and run crying up on stage and be baptized right then and their. But I didn’t. I simply sat with my sweaty hands in my lap biting my lip so I wouldn’t burst into tears. I never said a word to Diane as we left.
In fact it wasn’t until after work on the Monday that I told her that I had prayed the night before to ask Jesus into my heart. I prayed that the offer was still on the table, even though I didn’t know why he would want me. I went to work on Monday and told everyone who asked what I did for Easter that I had become a Christian and I was so excited! People looked at me like I had grown a horn or something, but I didn’t care. There was something inside me that was so HAPPY! I couldn’t stop smiling! It was the weirdest feeling in the world!
I got connected to a small group and started reading my bible and learning right away. My cousin and his family were so excited and we talked a lot about life as a Christian. The next logical step was , of course, to be baptized myself.
To Be Continued …