“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” ~Ephesians 2:8-9
On Sunday February 4th , 2018 myself and seven other amazing people got baptized and were made NEW. I am completely blown away every single time I think about that. I gave my life to Christ and He made me a new person. Let me tell you, I didn’t feel anywhere close to good enough, in fact, I felt so far from good enough that I almost backed out of my baptism at the last second. But I realized with the help of my amazing small group leader, that IT DOESN’T MATTER how unworthy you think you are. It really doesn’t because God takes us in our most broken form.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,…. and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” ~Eph. 2:4&6
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” ~Isaiah. 43:25
OK WOAH. He will not remember our sins? Is that not crazy to you guys? Because honestly that is one of the biggest things that made God so appealing to me. He not only forgives us of our sins, but he also forgets them… ALL OF THEM! He literally only asks that
- we believe in Him and His death for our sins
- we recognize those sins and come to Him in repentance of them.
That is all.
I can’t even describe how I felt as I sat in that trough with hundreds of people I love around me watching my testimony video. I sat there watching myself talk, my heart beating a mile a minute and tears flowing down my face. In that moment all I felt was joy and an overwhelming calmness. I had Christ in me, and He was never going to leave me for a second. When the video ended and Graham stated that my leader Maggie Streelman had said I was courageously vulnerable, and that in my written testimony I said that God would accept me no matter how broken I am, I broke into tears. I was shaking, but I wasn’t scared, I was beyond happy. With every muscle in my body I could feel the excitement for what I was doing and what it meant. Graham asked, if I had before that moment accepted Christ Jesus as my Lord and Savior, taking on my sins for all of eternity. He continued, saying “have you accepted that sacrifice, no matter how broken you are, have you accepted that truth?” When he added the part about brokenness for my baptism specifically, it hit me like brick that after years and years of feeling so broken and so unworthy, God took me and pieced me back together. I was choked up as I replied “yes, definitely.” I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a moment in my life. I smiled, closed my eyes, and took a mental picture as he dunked me under the water. I will never forget the weight lifting off and an intense joy filling me in that moment.
Let’s talk about the water real quick. To be clear, the water did not save me, it has no power. The water is merely a symbol of something so much greater and more powerful. It symbolizes a persons death to sin and resurrection into a new life with Christ. It is on of the coolest feelings, being submerged into that water and then pulled out as a new person. It feels like the moment you can breathe again after realizing that scary/bad situation will turn out ok. It feels like the first day of spring when you can breathe in warm air once again. It literally feels like you’re being saved from every bad thing you’ve ever done or experienced. Probably the coolest moment was inbetween being submerged and being pulled out of the water. It was a split second of relief for what I was leaving behind and excitement for what I was entering into! That is honestly the moment I remember most vividly from the whole experience.
One thing that really stood out to me throughout the day was love. The love that filled the Den that Sunday was a love that can (probably) never be duplicated. It was so unique, I don’t know how to put it into words. It’s not an everday love that people feel for eachother. It’s a love out of this world, a love that can only come from God. His love shone through the laughter, tears, and smiles of my seven baptism buddies. It shone through my family, friends, and peers. It shone through every hug I recieved or gave. It shone through the songs sung and the scriptures read. Beautiful is an understatement. This love, it filled me to the brim and overflowed in the form of joy. When I try to comprehend it I fail; all I can think about is just how much love Christ has for us. It’s never ending and that blows my mind.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans. 5:8
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” ~1 John 4:7-8
Rayann (one of my baptism pals) said that heaven touched earth that day, and she doesn’t know what heaven feels like but she’d like to think it felt like that day. I loved that, because it was so true. God’s love was flowing through that room like an overflown creek after a storm. It was just a giant Jesus party and everyone there was bursting with joy, love, and peace! I keep trying to think of more ways to describe this love but I can’t. I might honestly have to dedicate a whole post to my thoughts on God’s love because that’s how much I have to say about it! There is however a song that really puts my thoughts into words. It’s Reckless Love by Cory Asbury and I’ve had it on repeat recently. These are my favorite verses…
“And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away”
These verses, wow! Guys, He loves us so so much and I’m so thankful for that reasurance. I did nothing to deserve His love yet He offered it openely. He literally chased me and fought for me. And let me tell you He had to fight for a long time, but he never stopped till He won me. HOW FREAKING AWESOME IS THAT? I really can’t comprehend it! I fought him for so long because I felt unworthy, broken, too sinful to ever deserve Him. Yet through that battle, He walked toward me with an outstretched hand as you would a frightened animal trying not to startle it. He took my hand and led me to the truth that I AM WORTHY because I accepted Him. I am holding back tears just thinking about it.
The emotions I felt that day were extremely different than my normal emotional reactions. I usually bawl my eyes out when I’m that happy, but I cried much less than usual that day. I had an overall calm and overjoyed feeling residing inside of me. It was something so unique that I’ve never felt before and may never feel again. This shouldn’t have been something I even had to question, but I did. I questioned it over and over again. I was mad at myself, I thought that since I wasn’t crying I wasn’t as happy as I should’ve been. I felt like because everyone else was crying more than usual I should be too… what I didn’t notice till later was that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t cry a ton. It was so stupid really, because I did cry, just not when I expected to. When I wasn’t crying I still felt every emotion you get when you cry tears of joy, I was just missing the actual waterworks. Let me tell you though, that doubt was 110% Satan. He saw one last chance to try and tear me away from God and he jumped at it. He put those thoughts into my head to try and ruin my day, but I didn’t let it. I battled those thoughts all day. I kept thinking maybe it wasn’t the right time, maybe it was too soon. But WHAT? That’s crazy right? My friend/another baptism buddy Brent said in his testimonial that if you have already accepted Christ than it’s not a question of being ready. If you’ve taken that step than the right time is now. I went back to that a lot and it really helped get me through my doubt so if you’re reading this, thanks Brent!
Another really special part of the day was the moments I did cry. It was in those moments when it hit me that He loves me beyond any love I can imagine. My life was about to get so good! Thinking back on it, I don’t know why I thought I didn’t cry at all that day, because I did. I cried when Graham and Michael brought us around the trough. It was such a beautiful moment, they talked us through what we were about to do and then prayed for us. I cried when the welcome team circled around us, putting their hands on our shoulders while Graham and Maggie prayed over us. I cried as I watched my video. I cried while Graham was talking to me before/during baptizing me. I cried when I got home that night as it all just barely began to hit me. And lastly, I cried the next morning both as I got ready for work and on the way to work. That’s when it fully sunk in that I was a new person living in Christ! A song I was listening to, Hundred More Years by Francesca Battistelli said “the future looks so beautiful and bright.” For some reason I couldn’t hold back the tears of joy because MY future looked so beautiful and SO bright!
The thing is, I truly believe that God gave me different emotions that day on purpose. Rayann said the same thing happened to her, except she cried and usually doesn’t. I think He wanted me to remember this day as a day so different from any other day of my life so He made me feel something new and special. I will always distinctly remember and cherish how I felt that day because of how special it was. It’s crazy how God works, but I am so thankful for it!
February 4th, 2018 will forever be one of the top five best days of my life. I literally was on a Jesus/I am born again and made new high the whole week. I never wanted to come down. At work Monday morning I spent any chance I got reading through the verse I had Graham read during my baptism. That verse was Ephesians 2:1-9. Yes, it was basically the whole second chapter, but those words really spoke to me about the struggles I’ve gone through. Michael saw me that day and the first thing he asked was “have you come down yet” and I replied NO with the biggest smile. I didn’t stop smiling for basically the rest of the day. I did come down though. If given the choice I don’t know if I’d choose to constantly be on a high. If we never expierence the lows than the highs wouldn’t be as special!
I keep thinking I’m leaving things out or forgetting something. I originally started writing my testimony in this post, but that would have made it way too long so I’m going to share it in an upcoming post! I’ll explain all about how I came to follow this amazing being that is Christ and all the events that led to my baptism! Before I go, I want to say thank you so much for reading this! I shared this special day with you guys in hopes that it would be an encouragment to anyone who feels like they’re not good enough, to anyone who feels lost, and to anyone who is questioning what they believe. I hope it brought you joy, or just something to think about. I want to be better about sharing my faith with the people around me and this is just my first step down that road!
XOXO ~ Josie
P.S. Thank you so much to everyone who was there for me that day. You have no idea how much it meant to me! Thank you to my youth leaders Maggie and Nicole (FW campus) and Autumn and Mrs. Mudge (west campus). Each of you has been a huge part in strengthening my relationship with Christ, I don’t know what I’d do without you! And last but definitely not least, thank you so so much Michael and Graham (my pastors)! You guys are huge encouragements/role models to me and I wouldn’t be baptized right now if ya’ll hadn’t put it all together! Love you guys ❤