I was baptized July 7. I belong to Jesus now.
The journey began in Maryland, where I spent most of 5 years wishing I were in Texas, where my friends and family are. (More on that here.) When I moved back to Texas last summer, I thought everything would fall into place and I could finally begin the life I had been waiting to live. Having solved the mystery of the man I wanted to be, all that was left was to become that man.
Yet something still stood in my way. It was me. None of the answers I had to what was wrong with me were working. I was like someone who had brought a knife to a gun fight. I did not have the tools for the job.
Cautiously, I attended a few services at MacArthur Park Church of Christ in the fall, then more regularly in November. I always knew much of what popular culture taught me about Christians was wrong, but I still had a lot of secular baggage to get over in order to become one.
A man talked to me one day after service. His name is Steve, and he and his wife are now two of my best friends. He encouraged me to attend more church events, specifically Wednesday night dinner and Bible study, and also Sunday morning class. I did, and over time I made friends and grew in my understanding of what the whole Jesus thing is all about. The teaching was unfamiliar, but blessedly simple. Weekly Bible study with Barry starting in the spring also helped enormously.
In June, I found peace with the truth that I am a sinner. I determined I wanted to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But I sat on the decision for awhile, letting it sink in. People who were interested in my conversion asked me about my progress, and I struggled to answer them honestly. I wanted salvation, but what was I waiting for? An excuse to back out?
I thought of all the times I had heard of a bridegroom getting cold feet. Usually it wasn’t because he doubted his love for his bride; it was because he was afraid of the commitment of marriage. I wrote in March:
Singles say they’re not “ready” for marriage, which means they haven’t met someone with whom marriage unlocks benefits that today are too freely granted in casual relationships. If everyone waited until they were “ready” to be married, no one would be married. Marriage, more than most things, requires faith, a promise to stick through the rough patches, however interminably they stretch.
So I took a leap of faith. On July 7, I prayed and I resolved I would be baptized at the next opportunity. That opportunity came that same day, at the Sunday evening service. Barry baptized me in front of the congregation. Afterwards, about a hundred people came to congratulate me. It was an unforgettable experience, and I was grinning like a fool the whole time. I saw God in those people that night. He was there.
My biggest sin is seeing people as who may or may not be of use to me, not as God’s creations. I can transcend my sin with Jesus’ help. It boggles my mind how I’ve begun to see people differently. That’s His power and the truth of my life. He loves me and sacrificed Himself so that I might reconcile myself to God. Such a gift can be had by anyone. That’s why I’m sharing it with you now.
I’ve striven to make this a blog of ideas, not about me, which is why I rarely make myself part of the story, as I did here in discussing how to be a better writer. But, by virtue of my writing about something, especially on a recurring theme, you rightly assume that I have a deep personal stake in it, that the thread of thought is foundational to who I am. I really am inseparable from what I write, so in many ways this blog is about me, albeit from a limited perspective.
Now that I’m saved, will things change around here? A little. I might more readily add caveats to my stronger opinions, such as rejoicing at the demise of evil men. I might more frequently strike a positive tone, as I now have the transcendent truth with which to ward off my envy of others whom I perceive coming by easily what I struggle to attain. But, by and large, don’t expect my salvation in the blood of Jesus to much change the tone or content of what I write.
Let me explain, because I do not want to diminish this. I see my journey to Christ as my heart catching up to the premises my intellect accepted long ago, before I started “Life’s complexity and mortal weight.” Those premises haven’t changed.
By the way, I credit much of that intellectual development to Jewish, conservative radio host Dennis Prager, whose show I began tuning into in 2008 as a pliable, secular center-rightist. It took a Jew to bring my mind to God; it took Jesus to bring my heart. That sounds like the corny tag line of a spiritual self-help book, although it’s not really as ironic as it sounds when you consider that Jesus was a Jew.