Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)
TITLE: Better late than never
By john garner
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It had been ten years since the good Lord had leaned down and whispered to me, in that rolling thunder kind of way, “It’s now or never, son,” and I figured “now” was probably the better choice. You can talk about your miracles but you’d have to have been inside this tough skin of mine to appreciate what took place.
Brought up to almost worship “The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat,” by my dad, you could say I was a mite competitive. Still am, I suppose, though my perspective has been altered, somewhat. The wife was sick and tired of my “thrill” and she’d felt the “agony” of raising our two kids pretty much alone. She’d decided to throw in the towel and turned a deaf ear to me until my eyes were opened. Thank You, Jesus.
The road was long and hard but it was a certain one and her dream of a life she’d given up on became a reality. This hard-nosed, winner-take-all gladiator had turned into a bible-toting, down on your knees, devoted husband and father. But hold on, this story doesn’t end there, something was missing; however, it took ten years of searching for it to find us.
Let’s see, there was Calvary, Northlake, Believer’s Chapel, Scofield, Rhinehart, Lavon Drive Baptist and Community Bible Chapel, but it seemed like God had us on hold, so to speak, waiting for something else. Sure enough, in the Fall of 1990, we got a mailer about a new church starting up and meeting in the auditorium of Naaman Forest High School. I was a little skeptical about a church with a “Leave your wallet at home, just come as your are,” invitation, but my wife saw something else and, as usual, she was right.
From the moment we were greeted with a welcoming smile, we knew we were home, but much to our surprise, there was a lot more in store for us. Church had always been an hour of sit in the pew, sing a hymn and listen to a lesson from the Bible that I could either agree with or find fault with, and then go home.
This time, however, I was awakened by a desire that I’d never known before. The Spirit was tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “Your time has come; I brought you here for my purpose, for this time, for this church. Pastor Keith can use you.”
I can’t say that I remember those exact words being spoken but the idea was planted, and we found the message irresistible. As you can imagine, a new church is needing all the help it can get and what a joy it was for us to fill the empty holes, important stuff like: stuffing bulletins Saturday night, putting the signs out on the highway, getting the donuts and coffee, setting up the sound equipment and the joy of teaching the 4, 5 and 6 year olds.
When it came time for the first membership class we couldn’t wait to join. At the end of class, Pastor Keith invited any of us who had accepted Christ and wanted to make a profession of faith by baptism to fill out a card, and I knew without the slightest hesitation that it was my time. You see, I wasn’t saved in a church, but on my knees at home, staring through a cloud-burst of tears as my whole life was disappearing before my eyes. Thankfully, at that point, I could see clearly where my only hope was because my Mama had taught me where to look when all was lost. Up.
First Baptist was kind enough to share their facilities as my friend, Dave, and I were the only ones to be baptized, and we were joined by a crowd of six. However, when I came up out of that water and saw Pastor Keith’s big smile, it seemed like the place was packed. A vision, I suppose, for today, there are thousands that are blessed by Springcreek Community Church of Garland, Texas, all the way to Africa.
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