30 years old…a believer my whole life…yet never baptized…
I was infant baptized, yes, but that was a decision my parents made for me. I’ve participated in many other baptisms ~ usually, serving as a part of the worship team ~ but I’ve never actually made the decision myself.
The older I got, the more I kept feeling like that should have been done when I first made the decision to put my faith in Jesus Christ (I was 4 then) and so I kept feeling like I missed my window. It’s a public declaration of faith and I’ve already been living that declaration out for three decades! Plus, what will people think? That I’ve only just now become a Christian and the rest of my life was just a facade?
On the surface, I felt terrible for procrastinating over following through on this fundamental element of the Christian faith and allowing my fear of man to overrule my fear of God. But then I started to realize that this went much deeper than that…
I’ve just never felt “called” or that it was my time to be baptized. Until now. This year. God has planted so many seeds in my heart and cultivated them through every season of my life. I have finally felt His Holy Spirit bringing me to this place of humble surrender where I am to leave my old life and begin anew. He has called me to step out in faith and follow Him.
So here I am. Nervous, anxious, about to take the plunge. Tomorrow actually.
There aren’t too many things in my life right now that make me anxious – I mean sick to my stomach, knot in my throat, downright nervous. But for some reason, this does. So let’s dive into this a little.
I work pretty hard at controlling my life, my emotions, my environment. And you know what? I’m pretty good at it. My family lives a slow, safe, steady lifestyle that doesn’t include very many ups and downs. You won’t find me parachuting out of an airplane, bungee jumping, rock climbing, or performing for thousands on a stage. Things that should cause the kind of reaction I’m having to a simple dunk in the pool at a church member’s house.
So why the fear? Why the anxiety? And why am I finally saying “yes” to God after all these years?
Well, first of all, I know with all my heart that God is good and that He has plans for my life. Plans to prosper me and not to harm me (Jeremiah 29:11) . And just as I know and believe these truths about God, I also know that God has an enemy, the devil, and his job is to derail me from believing and accepting all the good things that God has in store for me.
The devil prowls around like a lion seeking to devour me (1 Peter 5:8). The devil uses fear to motivate (or unmotivate me). He uses my comfort zone to entrap me. He distracts and disillusions me every single day. He lures me down a path of hopelessness where I can’t see my worth and value and feeds me lies that I couldn’t possibly make a difference in the world around me.
I know both of these paths well. It’s my choice whether or not I follow the path that the devil prowls…the one where he uses fear and even comfort to trap me within the bounds of a “safe life” or to follow the path that Christ walked before me…the one that is less traveled, less glamorous, less “safe”.
You see, what I have come to realize is that knowing God and following God are two very different things.
I have known God my entire life. I have believed in Him, asked Him into my heart, studied His Word, talked to Him, loved Him, & gotten to know Him more & more in every season of my life. Knowing means “to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to comprehend clearly and with certainty; to have established or fixed, in the mind and memory” (dictionary.com). I know my Father God. I know my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know the Holy Spirit.
Now it’s time to take the next step in my faith and follow God.
Knowing God engages your head, following God engages your heart.
Following requires action. Following means “to go or come after; to accept the authority of or give allegiance to; to attend or serve” (dictionary.com). It is sacrifice pure and simple. Following means surrendering one’s old life and moving forward in obedience to the life that God has called us.
This is both scary & exciting – stepping out into the unknown. Satan will use fear to hold you back and convince you to stay within the bounds of the “safe path”. How many times have we stood at a crossroad in our life and decided to stay on the safe path…and not step out in faith to follow God’s direction for our life?
Jesus lived a simple life as the son of a carpenter for 30 years…learning the trade, working the family business every day, loving & spending time with His family, increasing in His knowledge of His Father God each & every day. Jesus spent 30 years knowing who He was: son of God, son of man. In the gospel of Luke, you can read more about Jesus’ life before He began His ministry. Luke 2:40 says, “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon Him.” Luke 2:47, “And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Luke 2:52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.”
You can clearly see the knowledge of God growing in Jesus’ life.
Then one day, He was called to step out in faith. To surrender His old way of life behind, to leave His family, community, & job…to follow His Father God.
At age 30, Jesus was baptized and began His ministry here on Earth. Jesus stepped out and began a ministry that has lasted over 2,000 years and spread across the entire globe. Who would have thought that the son of a simple carpenter could have changed the lives of so many? And have you ever stopped to think what may have happened if he did not choose this path to follow God? If he had chosen to stay within the bounds of his “safe” life in Nazareth?
Jesus calls us to follow Him, not just know Him.
Do you know what stands out the most to me when reading in the Gospels about when Jesus called His 12 disciples? They immediately left everything and followed Him. They left their jobs, their families, their communities…and they did so immediately.
No turning back.
I’m ready now. I’m ready to go deeper. To take the next step in my faith journey. To overcome my fears, my anxiety, my insecurities. To declare to the world through baptism that I have decided to follow Jesus…and to declare this hymn* as my anthem…
I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.
Though none go with me, still I will follow. Though none go with me, still I will follow. Though none go with me, still I will follow. No turning back. No turning back.
The cross before me, the world behind me. The cross before me, the world behind me. The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back. No turning back.
Will you decide now to follow Jesus? Will you decide now to follow Jesus? Will you decide now to follow Jesus? No turning back. No turning back.
No turning back. No turning back.
(*Christian hymn written by Simon Marak, formed into a hymn by Sadhu Sundar Singh, & arranged into a popular American hymn version by William Jensen Reynolds)