It was a warm summer day and the pond was calm. The trees rustled gently and a breeze touched my cheek. I could hear the sound of cars from the roadway, but they sounded muted compared to the sweet songs of birds’ overhead. In the background, someone was playing a keyboard and voices joined all nature in singing an alleluia chorus.
Across the lake I could see people gathered on the shore, and a few boats passed by. For a few minutes my mind wondered, and I remembered such a scene as this in an old movie about the South.
“Can they see what’s happening here?” I asked my husband. “I wonder what they’re thinking?”
My attention was drawn back to the moment as our two oldest sons joined us. Behind them were our two closest friends wearing the same white robes.
As we waited for the last person to join us I couldn’t help thinking, “How did we all get here?”
I had been grounded in a mainline religion as a child. But by the time my teen years rolled around, I was aware that my actions were not measuring up to the standards I had been taught. This teaching had also made me aware that confession without repentance led to the sin of sacrilege that was very great. So I turned away.
In later years I turned over a new leaf and attempted to return to the religion. My children were reaching the ‘age of accountability’, (as I had been taught) and conviction was upon me that they too, needed to be taught about God. In keeping with this leading, we all dressed in our best clothes and attended a children’s service.
Maybe it was the children lined up in the pews, or more likely, the mysterious clicking that moved the children in unison that touched something deep within me. By the time we left, my husband and I both knew we couldn’t go back…nor could we send our sons to be taught what we could no longer submit to ourselves.
Our problem intensified as we recognized that leaving the ‘known’, and rejecting what our minds and our families believed was the true religion was not going to be easy.
Over the next few years, we attended a friend’s church while the search went on for the true religion. The boys and I went to service while my husband prepared Sunday dinners for his church-going family.
One night a friend visited us and brought his pastor. With their help, all my searching, all our questions were put in perspective. We had been looking toward religion to rightly relate us to the Holy God. We were focused on ‘doing’ that which would make us acceptable in His sight. By opening up scripture to us, we soon saw that what we needed was a relationship: that this was not in our ‘doing’ but in His done. He accomplished this with the death of His Son Jesus on the cross, as He bore my sins and shortcomings. It wasn’t in our reaching up to Him, but His reaching down to us with His offer of love and salvation. We opened our hearts and invited Jesus to enter in with all He had to offer.
As for the ‘true church’…that was found as we fellowshipped with others who named the name of Jesus. Believers are the true church and it is called His Bride.
A voice brought me out of my reverie. “Are you ready?” asked the man in a black robe. He beckoned our family and friends into the waters. Today was the day we were telling the world of our new life in Christ.
I was the first to approach the Pastor. Ducks were lazily swimming by us. I could feel the fish swimming around my legs.
He placed me under the water with these words: “I baptize you in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.”
It seemed like endless minutes that I was deprived of breath and light, but I was then lifted up and heard people around us singing:
“…I have decided to follow Jesus,
No turning back, no turning back.”
My soul whispered a quiet “Amen”.
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