Hello Grace Community Church and Happy Easter!
I have been asked to share the “story” of my walk with Christ leading up to my baptism today. I am not usually one to talk about myself so this is a bit outside of my wheel house but I’ll do what I can.
As you may or may not know, part of the baptism ceremony here at Grace usually involves someone who could be identified as your main support and was instrumental in your walk with Christ. Or as we like to refer to it here at Grace, a “Side by Side.” I cannot give that distinction to any one person. My story, or journey if you will, is made up of a collage of people; a collection of events; over the course of my life which are too numerous to list. What I can distinctly say is that I am so very grateful to all those who are part of the ever-changing tapestry. Those known and even those unknown to me. Now, with that said if I had to name the single most influential person to my spiritual growth, that person would be my mother, Bobbie Newell. A true Christian who leads by example. She couldn’t be with me today because she is celebrating Easter in Boston with family, so I have my daughters Katie and Kimberly with me. All three of these ladies are an intricate part of me being here today in way or another. Whether by example, necessity, or responsibility I cannot be more thankful.
My “story” in and of itself may very well be quite similar to a lot of people’s. My parents had me baptized as an infant, and I grew up going to a Catholic school. We attended church every Sunday, participated in Mass, and practiced the sacraments giving me some direction and a foundation to build on. In my early adolescence my parents divorced, so my brothers and I were raised by my mother. It wasn’t until I went to a revival at about twelve years old that I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.
For the next couple of years, I enjoyed an occasional youth group, but friends and social circles changed as I moved from a Catholic school to a public school. My attention eventually shifted and dare I say, I didn’t exactly live a life that glorified God.
After many wayward years I eventually married. Unfortunately, the unrighteous lifestyles we brought into the marriage and maybe thought we would grow out of didn’t just go away, but having gone through the motions we began a family of our own several years later and as it goes “life” happened. Struggles ensued within the marriage, work, finances, running a household, raising children, etc… For myself and my walk with Christ I was following much of the same outline that I was familiar with as a child, and working Christian based talk radio and self-help
books in for support. All the while leaning heavily on prayer. I managed the circumstances.
“Life” continued and, long story short, after twenty-six years my marriage ended in divorce. I finished raising our children as I thought the Lord would want them raised, and as with my own story, their lives have also been touched by many. It is by God’s sovereign grace they have matured to be two wonderful young ladies. So, as you can see my story is probably not too terribly different from others or even yours. Although circumstances may differ our hopes and fears, feelings of heartache, shame, joy and peace, and the need for forgiveness, redemption, and love, do not.
I haven’t always walked closely with Jesus. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and have sinned more times than I care to admit, but through it all Christ has sustained me with his amazing grace. Not that I don’t need frequent reminders to trust that God has it all in his control. There are times when trusting goes against everything I’m feeling and those are the times I have to be more purposeful of being confident in what I hope for and have assurance about what I do not see. I pray back to him the words that he’s given to me, that he has plans for me to prosper and not to be harmed, plans to give me hope and a future. We are told that ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. So, it’s with
these promises that I can take comfort and hold fast to, knowing that as long as I’m doing “my part” he has promised to do his.
So, a portion of “my part” is listening and acting on what the Holy Spirit impresses upon me. Which in this case is to be baptized. To reaffirm and proclaim my beliefs now, as an adult, that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God, born of the virgin Mary, that He suffered and died for the forgiveness of sins, was buried, and that on the third day was raised from the dead, is now seated at the right hand of God and will come again in Glory to judge the living and the dead and that his kingdom will have no end. Hallelujah and Amen!!!
I believe this in my heart so let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. I also offer up this prayer for all, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ (Phil. 1:9-10).
May the peace of Christ be with you all always.