Dylan is one of 32 people getting #dunked this weekend! Read his story below to find out what led him to the water.
My name is Dylan Reynolds, and this fall I’ll be a junior at The College of Wooster in Ohio, where I’m studying to be an English major. I have been a member of Grace Community Church for my entire life, and when I’m at school I’m blessed to attend a church of the same name and mission.
As a born-and- raised-in- the-church Christian, belief in the Gospel slipped quietly and undetected into my life. In the early years of my journey as a Christian, my faith was shapeless — written vaguely in the margins of C.S. Lewis novels, making rare and irregular appearances in particularly moving Sunday morning worship songs, and decorated unimaginatively with what I believed to be an impressive distribution of carefully memorized Bible verses and trivia.
My acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Savior grew in such close proximity to my learning about him that I struggled in separating the two, and there was little room left for doubt in between. I came to know God by increments so subtle and gradual that I cannot locate the exact moment of my public acceptance of Jesus into my life, but can only gesture at a vague window of years, late in elementary school, over which I probably confessed Jesus to be my Lord and Savior a number of times.
The decision to publicly proclaim Jesus as my Savior was not the glorious ceremony I had envisioned for my new relationship with God. I could not perceive a shift in my heart, my passion for the Gospel, or even in my salvation status. Having been exposed to God’s glory since infancy, I felt sure that I was already far too acclimated to God’s presence in my life to undergo any deeper change. Accepting Jesus as my Savior, it had seemed to me, was just a matter of following the path of least resistance. It was effortless, it was inevitable, and it felt shamefully
So I should not have been surprised when God began his assault on that lukewarm faith of mine. In my first year of middle school, God threw me into a Bible study with 20 other boys my age, led by a wide assortment of leaders who for the next seven years dedicated their time to asking us questions about our mission as Christians — questions that I never thought were compatible with my faith, but were in fact central to it.
The Bible studies — prefaced by remarkably competitive games of “capture the flag” devised by our leaders as a surefire way to drain 20 middle schoolers of their bottomless supplies of energy, and ending in undeserved snacks rewarding us for forty-five minutes of deeply divided attention — became the sort of spiritual battleground that God knew would rock my faith. Each Bible study provoked me with a wide range of questions that inspired and challenged my faith beyond recognition.
My faith, which had lingered noiselessly and without challenge or consequence for some time, reacted violently to this sudden injection of interrogation into its system. What is salvation all about? How do we reconcile God with the problem of pain? Why did God make me? Why did He make mosquitoes? The questions we explored sometimes nearly devastated my faith, and while I might’ve said at the time that I was “maturing in my journey with God,” the truth is that my relationship with God had more in common with a demolition project than anything that might signify real progress. But the more that God pressed these questions to my heart, the more I began to trust what he was doing. He was making room.
Through my Bible study and the countless relationships that accompanied it, I began to abandon whatever lowercase-g god I had known early on in my life, whose glory, mercy, and compassion had only been some bizarre approximation of God’s own, without ever coming close to the Real Thing.
I grew up with all the truths and answers that the Gospel has to offer us, and this is an advantage of my journey that I cannot afford to understate. But this advantage, like so many others, has its disadvantages. Having been exposed so plainly to the many answers supplied by the Gospel, I had failed to seek out the questions from which these answers emerge — questions that lend the Gospel its strength, and which give Christianity its infinite importance.
Perhaps the most consequential of these questions came to me in Matthew 16:15, where Jesus asks his disciples, “But who do you say I am?” Having taken the question’s answer for granted my entire life, I had never considered the question to be a formidable one. But by asking it, Jesus made room in my imagination for the countless people who he indeed might have been, but in fact was not. He is not John the Baptist, Elijah, or anyone comparable to them. He is Christ, the Son of the living God. It was only by way of this question that God was able to deliver me from the incomprehensibility of its answer, and only through it have I begun to navigate his name.
The ease into which I entered my faith has since been the most challenging task in attempting to keep it. I pray that in my baptism, God might renew my eyes for him, and that this renewal is itself renewed with each day.
I have thought about baptism rather passively for most of my life, and only in the future-tense, as something that “will probably happen one day.” But when my mom asked me how I would feel about being baptized alongside her this summer, I could think of no better occasion. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and I look forward to remembering July 30, 2017 as a day of tremendously important consequence and renewal in my relationship with God as I publicly proclaim my faith in him.