A few weeks back during our Hero's Journey sermon series Justin shared these words about what baptism has meant to Stormy Raley. Below, she (baptized at RRCOC just about a year ago) shares what God's been up to in her life over the last several months:
Being baptized at the age of 25 was a blessing. I was old enough to knowingly understand and make my decision after being exposed to massive amounts of skepticism, doubt and denial that was shed on Jesus, the Bible and Christianity. Before my baptism, I lived a life of very heavy sin. About 3 years before being baptized I lived a more balanced life, I had grown far away from who I was, trying to forgive myself for the past that followed me like a shadow. Heavy guilt, secret shame and embarrassment. Until one pivotal moment. The moment that I realized that It was not my forgiveness I had so badly yearned for. It was Gods forgiveness.
I remember looking into my husband's eyes before I was leaned back into the water……I remember the feeling….I had longed for the moment, God had given me someone that would deliver to me to his front steps…to take a dip into forgiveness and begin a relationship with God. If my husband only knew what he did for me in those moments. If God only knew how thankful I was that I was to be there in that moment.
Thoughts that crossed my mind while getting ready to step into the water: “Am I worthy? Can I really be forgiven for all that I have done?”………When I was brought up from the water the feeling was almost instantaneous, there was a huge weight instantly lifted from my being, I felt clean, I truly felt forgiven. From that moment on I felt the strong presence of God.
I began to feel convicted for things I used to do that I never knew was wrong. In spouts of anger I would say hurtful things, but now I have a strong magnet like presence, a voice, a whisper, a thought telling me to refrain from anger…..I only want to love. I have an atheist sister that I had a deep hatred for, with nothing but bad things to say to her and about her….after being baptized now I feel nothing but love and the presence of God helping me to forgive, because after all …..he forgave me.
This all sounds like something someone would write as a “lets get baptized add”, but this is me…..this is all happening to me…. a far from normal person that used to think religion was a way of “Controlling the masses”. It felt like getting baptized set me into a frequency that I wasn’t able to receive before. I began constantly asking myself how would Jesus handle this situation if he were here? (I mean ME, of all people, literally asking myself WWJD, sometimes I would smile to myself..). In past relationships it was all about me, what was I not getting, what was he not doing for me. However in my marriage, after being baptized I see this man that has vowed his life to God and to me and I can only love him unconditionally. I couldn’t bare to hurt him, and I cared more about his feelings than my selfishness.
After being baptized, something else happened…I work in the medical field in the hospital where there can be so much pain, sadness, confusion, and death. I would sit with patients or their families and listen to their hardships, sometimes there is a nudge within me….someone telling me to pray for them…...and not being able to ignore the strong heart pounding request, I would ask them if I could pray with them. Someone who isn’t “good” at prayer, someone who is SO uncomfortable praying out loud. But It was God, using me to comfort others.
I think what being baptized taught me most of all is that God worked on me for so many years. He never gave up on me. He loved, and forgave me like no one ever has or ever will. In seeking him, I found him…….and I also found myself and my true calling which is to be a glimpse of light for those in the dark searching for God.