When I was in 3rd grade my parents stopped attending the church we belonged to. We church shopped for a while and then in 6th grade, we started attending Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Charles regularly. I remember I had to be blessed instead of taking communion because I hadn't taken the communion class so once we became members I was extremely eager to take the class so I too could take communion like the other kids. In 7th and 8th grade, my mom made sure to take me to confirmation class every week. It was on Wednesday nights, they called it "Wednesday Night Live" and was complete with open gym, dinner, choir and confirmation. My mom never let me skip and looking back I am very grateful, but at the time hated missing the Wednesday night group lesson at the barn. After many Wednesdays and a weekend at confirmation camp at Augustana College (where I met Erin Pande and Corinne Walkoe!) I was confirmed in the Fall of 1993, my freshman year of high school. I continued to be very active at my church and was also very involved in youth group, played hand bells, sang with the adult choir (those poor adults who had to listen to me sing!) and went on many ski trips, retreats and even to Colorado on a week long hiking trip out in the mountains. (no toilets, showers, running water) I remember one trip (Amy you went with, remember...with that guy who sang, Peter Eide or something? LOL) and I came back all charged up about God. It was shortly after that I remember being at a doctor appointment scared to death and thinking "I'm okay, God is with me." and started praying while I was waiting for the doctor to come in. But even with all that said...I still didn't have a relationship with God and certianly wasn't lving a life led by the Spirit.
Then, like many believers, I went away to school and stopped going to church except on Ash Wednesday and other major Christian holidays. After I came home from college my mom was always encouraging (I saw it as nagging - Love you Mom!) me to go to church again but I knew I'd be living downtown so why church shop to have to just do it all again when I moved?
After living downtown for 4 months a co-worker from Bath and Body Works (I call her my angel...but that's a story for a different time) invited me to Park Community Church. Within a year I joined a small group, (met Virginia!!) bought my first Bible and became very active in the 20' and 30's group. After attending there a while, I was looking to attend a different church and that was the time I met Jason and he introduced me to Willow Creek Chicago.
From the very first time the idea of baptism as a believer came up, I was very adamant about never being baptized again. I was baptized as a baby and once was enough. I even babysat for Andrew the morning his parents were baptized at Park (also both baptized as Lutherans as babies). Them being baptized was great for them but something I never thought I'd be doing and didn't even take a second to think about myself being baptized.
However, the Lord had different ideas and though I didn't believe in myself being baptized again I found myself praying about baptism.
All that time I'd spent at church as a child I never really understood who Jesus was. I'm embarrassed to admit that I never understood that Jesus was God in human form here on Earth and also didn't understand how the Holy Spirit was also God. I didn't understand this concept until I spent a lot of time reading the Bible and other resources and in prayer. My faith had always been about God and believing in God but it wasn't until a couple years ago that I began to understand Jesus and having a relationship with Him.
I've met many people who share their "moment that they accepted Christ"...some who are very young and share this with their mom or dad are driving down the street, others privately or at church. But for me it's been a VERY gradual process. For as long as I can remember, I've always believed in God but never had "that moment."
As I have said, it wasn't until after a lot of prayer that I was finally convicted and deciding I wanted to be baptized. It was not an easy decision. I really struggled with what my family would think. I also really wanted to do it outside (in our churches case...in Lake Michigan), not in some "pool" inside. When our church finally announced the date, it was the weekend Jason and I had Lollapolooza tickets. Ugh - another obstacle. I had been sharing all of these thoughts with Jason along the way and that I had made the decision to be baptized and he knew I was praying for him as well. (and he had been praying for me too along the way) Jason, also led by the Spirit, had made the decision to be baptized at this time...though his "story" is extremely different than mine.
For me...a part of me being baptized was my "I accept Christ." moment. :)
Biblically, believing means you're fully giving your life to Christ. All of me goes to Christ...it is ALL for Him. Baptism is to publically show that I am a person of faith and am giving my all to God! The Holy Spirit has worked in me in so many ways and this was such a great way to physically show what He has done for me. This baptism sure has done that! I am so excited about my faith, it has been an amazing journey starting with my baptism as a baby leading me to where I am at now.
Making the choice to be baptized forced (for lack of a better word) me dig really deep and rely fully on God to help me to understand exactly what baptism means as a believer and more importantly why it is important to my faith and my walk with the Lord. It wasn't an easy decision for me and again have learned the importance of "never say never." The Lord had and has much bigger plans for me and this baptism was one more way of me having to let go and let Him lead me.
I now have that moment...August 8, 2009 is my "official" day that I accepted Christ as my Savior!
Michael W. Smith ~ "Breath" - This song was played at the Leadership Summit the day before I was baptized...and though I had heard it and sang it numerous times before...the words spoke to me and will always be my baptismal song. Next time I need some encouragement with my faith...this is what I listen to. Take a listen! just click the green link and make sure it loads first so it's not all chopped up when you listen!)