The phrase “it’s on” was a phrase our son, Drew used quite frequently while in high school. It was part of his getting mentally prepared for a race. On race day, he would take his place on the start line and as the start gun would sound off Drew would say; “it’s on!” By saying this phrase, Drew was proclaiming that he was ready to run his race and to run it to the best of his ability.
In recent weeks, the phrase, “it’s on”has been playing through my mind. If you are familiar with my story, you will know that of recent years there have been challenges. I share in my post, “GO” how God responded to me as I cried out in the midst of those challenges and surrendered all at His feet. As a result, God placed a new path for me to take on my journey to be with Him one day.
Rewind to early Fall, 2014. At my former church home, I was asked to lead Sunday School one morning. I cannot remember the name of the book the class was studying and discussing but I remember on this particular morning the variations of church doctrine was being discussed. As I was preparing the night before and as I began to lead the class in discussion that Sunday morning, a voice within told me to be careful how I choose my words and thoughts on baptism. You see, I was in a Methodist church/Sunday School where infant baptism takes place at the parents choosing. Along with that, Methodist accept baptisms from other denominations.
Wrestling With God
It was on this particular weekend where God started really working on me. He was already telling me to “go” to not only a different church but a different denomination. Just as Jacob wrestled with God ( Genesis 32:22-32) I was in a wrestling match with God. In the midst of God telling me what I needed to do be healed, he was also telling me I would be baptized by immersion. Again, I could relate to how Moses felt and the many others after him felt when God gave instruction and expected those instructions to be followed. It was through this back and forth battle where I began to evaluate my own personal walk with Christ. I even went back and re-read some of my own writings. Conviction was coming on strong and hard on my heart and life.
Asking God to Lead and Guide
Sunday morning approached for me to teach the lesson. Before going I said a prayer asking God to lead me and guide my leadership and words. Needless to say, the lesson fell into place that morning. When baptism came up we were led into discussion more about the significance of the baptism and acknowledging the different ways people are baptized. In essence, the lesson became less about church doctrine but more about the relationship with Christ when we are baptized into the Christian faith. I look back on that Sunday morning and I see how God intervened on that lesson and how he spoke to me even louder as I prepared and taught the lesson.
It is six months later. Jim and I both have obeyed and followed this new path that God put before us. As scary as it is was for Jim and me to step out on faith and make the change, I can honestly say that we both have been blessed beyond measure. We can look back and see God’s hand in all that has happened to lead us to where we are today.
Three weeks ago, as worship was closing in song and our pastor had given the altar call, Jim and I stood up to sing. We both looked at each other but the other did not say a word. It was at that moment I wanted to run down to that altar and tell our pastor that “it was on!”. Yet, I didn’t because I had told Jim that when it came to joining this new family I wanted it to be a decision we made together. I was waiting for his lead. As the song continued, I so prayed that Jim would take the lead and go down. Yet, it didn’t happen. My thoughts were; ” God, I know you are nudging me but I know it is in your time when you will have Jim’s heart ready to make the move. Help me to be patient. God, just know my running shoes are on and I am ready to run to your arms and be made new.”
However, as worship ended and Jim and I gathered our belongings, Jim looked at me and told me he had to speak with Pastor Dan before we left church. My response was; “okay” thinking he wanted to tell Pastor Dan he enjoyed the service or had a particular question for him. Yet, the Holy Spirit was speaking even louder within me. As Jim approached our Pastor, my heart pounded louder and louder. Jim shook hands with Pastor Dan and as he did this he said; “April and I are ready to make the next step to become a part of this church family.”
Of course, baptism came into the picture. Jim and I had been baptized as infants. We both had accepted Christ into our lives during our childhood. Our families did a beautiful job bringing us up in the Christian faith. Yet, Jim and I both felt we needed to rededicate our lives to Christ and be immersed. When told that we would need to be immersed we did not give it a second thought. As far as we were concerned “it was on!”.
In previous days, Jim and I had searched the scriptures, discussed and prayed about being baptized by immersion even though we were baptized as infants. It was in our searching and discussion where we came across Acts 19:1-5.
Acts 19:1-5New International Version (NIV)
Paul in Ephesus
19 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
In this scripture Paul is on his third missionary trip. He encounters these men who were baptized by John the Baptizer. These men had repented of their sins but did not understand the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection or how the Holy Spirit worked in their lives. After talking with Paul on the significance of Christ’s death, resurrection and the Holy Spirit, Paul baptized them once again and the Holy Spirit came upon them. From there we read that they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
This scripture opened up our eyes and hearts. We both have believed in the risen Savior for most of our lives. Jim and I have known, felt and experience the Holy Spirit working in our lives many times. After all, it was the Holy Spirit nudging us to bring us to this pivotal point in our lives. Yet, Jim and I both had a yearning for emotional and spiritual healing. We knew at that moment we had to put our running shoes on and tell God; “it’s on!”.
Easter Sunday/April 5, 2015 could not come soon enough for us. I found it difficult to sleep on Saturday night. The sleeplessness were not from nerves but from excitement. It was the same kind of excitement/anticipation that I would have on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa to come and bring our gifts. I knew Sunday morning I was going to receive the most precious gift I could ever be given in this earthly world. The gift was new life.
Not only was I excited about Sunday coming but I reflected back on where I was a year ago. In this reflecting back, I saw God’s hand in every situation that brought me to this moment. I will never forget the very first Sunday when I entered the place where God told me to go. As I sat down in the back pew and began to worship, I felt like dead skin was falling off of me. In my obedience to God, paying attention to the nudges from the Holy Spirit and surrendering all at the feet of Jesus, healing is taking place.
“Down with the Old……Up with the New”
Sunday morning arrived and just as Drew would gather his things in preparation to go run his race. Jim and I gathered up our things in preparation for what would happen within the next couple of hours. We were ready to take than next step of faith and enter the race God has called us to.
As Jim and I stood in our white robes, Pastor Dan asked who would want to go first. Without hesitation, this girl who for years said she would never be immersed said she wanted to go first. I was ready to get on that start line and begin a new race.
As I sit here and write this post of testimony, my heart and eyes are filling up with tears. Words cannot express the feeling of me going down and the water rushing over me and then coming back up. I can still feel that water rush over me. Since I came up, I feel this warmth around me twenty-four/seven. It is an unexplainable warmth but I know it is the Holy Spirit wrapping around me in all that I do. There is no more fear instead my running shoes are on and I am ready to run a new race for Christ…….‘it’s on!”.
Take a moment to not only watch this video but carefully listen to the words:
Randy Travis and Kenny Chesney describe how I felt with the lyrics; “I felt like a newborn baby cradled up in the arms of the Lord”. In days ahead, I know that there will be storms to weather and challenges to face but it is okay because I know my loving God has his arms wrapped around me and his SON lives in my heart.