Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away.
My husband, my oldest son and I were all baptized on the same day. We also publicly dedicated our one and a half year old to Jesus. It was beautiful.
Why did I get baptized, you ask? Honestly, I've just never done it. This is going to sound really stupid but I didn't want to get wet in front of all those people. I have this hair, you see....
Let's just say, it was an act of obedience.
"Jesus replied, “What I am telling you so earnestly is this: Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God."
The whole night before the baptism I couldn’t sleep. I woke up exhausted and nervous. My husband had a headache. Once in church, singing praise and worship songs, I began to feel better but I was still really nervous.
My husband was the first to be baptized. They showed his video testimony, prophesied some amazing things over him and down he went! The Lord washed away all his sins. It was a beautiful moment. Every worry I'd held onto about our future together melted like a puddle... I was so proud to be next to him.
Then, it was my turn. They showed my video testimony, prophesied over my life and down I went. I emerged fresh, sparkly, shiny, new. It had been a long time coming and it felt great to finally take that step of faith as it had been long (yes, very long) overdue!
My seven year old son was last. Bless his little, evangelical soul for wanting to be baptized! Our Pastor called him, “An Ambassador of Love”. They showed his video testimony, prophesied over his life and he publicly dedicated his life to Jesus. I couldn’t be prouder of him.
We went home happy. Our family. Our little, blended family.
There's Always Rain Before a Rainbow
At home, we enjoyed a post-baptism lunch. The sun was shining, it was unseasonably warm out. I had just finished my sandwich when my cellphone rang.
Him: “Why didn’t you tell me my son was getting baptized today?”
Uh oh. It’s my ex-husband. My intimidating, verbally abusive, has a history of bullying and harassing me ex-husband. I use the term “husband” loosely. We were legally married but beyond that, he and I were never truly married. God never blessed our marriage and as such, there was never any love there.
*On a side note: If you've felt guilty for being divorced or you're feeling trapped in an unhealthy marriage, have you ever considered whether God blessed your union? Did you get married with or without God's blessing? Just some food for thought!
I hadn’t heard from my son's father since Christmas, when he called our son for all of five minutes to say, “Merry Christmas, I’ll FaceTime you later”. Of course, he never did call back.
As usual, his phone call that day was aggressive.
Me: “Excuse me?”
Him: “Why didn’t you tell me my son was getting baptized today?”
Me: “How do you even know that?”
Him: “I have my spies.”
Me: “You’re spying on me?”
Him: “Never-mind that. Why didn’t you tell me my son got baptized today?”
Me: “Okay, wait, but who told you he got baptized? It just happened.”
Him: “I told you, I have my ways.”
The week before he had sent me a text message out of the blue. Again, with information he could of only known by someone watching me and feeding him information.
I could feel the darkness closing in.
The conversation ensued. I asked him if he wanted to speak to our son, he said no.
(Wait… No? Why did he call?)
He did continue to threaten, bully and scare me while his fiancée screamed profanities at me from the background.
I told him I'd speak to him because he's my son's biological father but I wouldn't stay on the phone and listen to his fiancé swearing at and threatening me in the background.
She didn’t stop.
I told him I would hang up.
She didn’t stop.
Obviously, I hung up.
With angry text messages dinging on my cellphone, I walked back to the living room to sit with my family. I turned my phone to silent and tried to revive the hopeful feeling I had felt only a couple hours earlier. I tried to find the happiness I'd felt before that phone call. I reminded myself of the words the Pastor spoke over my life earlier that morning, "Your joy is your strength," he said.
Overwhelmed with sadness and fear, I hung my head and burst into a flood of tears.
Filled With Fear
I spent most of my afternoon anxious, afraid and re-thinking my decision to move back to where I grew up. I had another good cry, prayed about it and determined I wasn't going to give in to fear. I opened my Bible and the first thing I read was Acts 22:14-16.
“Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
I’ve talked about Paul before [Read: Your Mess is Going to Make an Awesome Ministry] but it really hit me that after Paul was baptized, he went BACK to the place where he came from to tell the news of what God was doing in his life.
The people hated him.
They plotted against him.
They wanted to kill him.
Kind of like my ex-husband.
"Every Little Thing is Gonna be Alright..."
“All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.”
We show our humanity when we have moments when we’re totally afraid. We show our humanity when we get emotional and lose momentum. We show our humanity when we feel pain and when we mourn. Our human nature is a weak and sinful one. We weren’t created to be sinful but we were born with this inequity. The Lord is our strength and we were created to be dependent on Him.
In our weak moments, we need the Holy Spirit to comfort us because the love of God is what makes us feel whole. My Pastor (After the fact) told my husband and I that the only way to get rid of fear is to replace it with love because perfect love drives out fear.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
God loves me and knew I needed to face my past, instead of always running from it.
So, for the first time ever, I pushed through my fear and called the police.
SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO GO BACK BEFORE WE CAN GO FORWARD
Moving back home to where I grew up has been incredibly hard. Seeing my life-long New York City dream get smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror as I drove away, was one of the most emotional things I've ever had to do. It wasn't as much about New York as it was the years of dreaming I had invested in it. When I met my husband, I literally thought he was a "dream come true". Driving away from New York was a cold slap in the face of a hard reality.
It's still hard... (New York, I love you).
YOU'RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE, DOROTHY
Back home, in my humble Canadian roots, I have a supportive community and the people who love me the most. It's a quiet, safe place for recovery. There's solitude and rest to be found in the slower pace of life.
That said, there's no place like home... to fill us with fear and insecurity.
"But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”
When Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth He was judged and mocked for being a "mere carpenter's son". The people didn't accept him in His hometown. If that doesn't illustrate the paradox of relationships I don't know what does!
"But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”
Like the disciples, we need to know when it's time to move forward in faith, shake the dust off our feet and leave a place where we don't find honoured. So, will I stay in my hometown? I don't know. But I do know, I can't keep running from it.
And wherever I go next, I'll go out of faith, not fear.
Human Inequity Is Not a Lack of Faith
We all have seasons when we slip between faith and fear following Jesus. It’s human nature to think on our level of humanity instead of in God's supernatural terms. We have to teach ourselves to trust Him. [Need help in that area? Check out my Bible Study, The Be Still Series!]
"...But, strange as it seems, we Christians actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ."
If I allowed fear or anxiety to control me, I wouldn’t have started this ministry. But I have to trust the Lord will be my strength and shield from my enemies while I’m in this place.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.”
Are you in a place where you're being dishonoured? Do you need to trust God will shield you? Are you living in fear or faith?
Get up, be baptized and go from that place to tell of what the Lord has done for you!