[Good] Friday 19th April – 7:30pm
Entering the Church building for the youth’s sleepover/stay-awake event was where my Baptism experience began. Darrel had a full night of films, worship and fun planned, to both understand the weight of the Easter morning to come, and enjoy each other’s sleep-deprived company. However, God had even more planned.
After an awesome group game called ‘Ninja’ (if you don’t know, look it up – it’s so much fun) followed by some pizza and my ‘cold but worth-it’ chips, we all sat down to watch a film called ‘The Shack’. I’d heard of the book and knew it was good, but had no real idea of what it was about. I can’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it, so I might write a specific blog post at a later time to pick apart what I got from it, but just know – it was outstanding. A MUST SEE FILM. Afterwards, I’d realised that God had been speaking to me through the film and I was able to make peace with myself. This happened through three one-to-one conversations. The first was about letting go of the past; the second was about letting go of the present and the last was about letting go of the future. It sounds odd doesn’t it? Surely, letting go of the future is impossible and letting go of the present is just delusional? Absolutely not. Although, what I’m about to say next might make you think that I was.
It’s very common for people to feel like they have ‘baggage’ even when they’ve consciously “moved on”. We drag the weight of it through our lives and it shapes our experiences, feelings and actions. So, I surrendered to it all in that first conversation. There’s no way back in life and I believe God designed it that way for a reason. We all want to fight to prove ourselves, when we should really be surrendering to prove our faith. After all, Easter is about how Jesus surrendered his life to redeem our pasts! Finally surrendering made me feel more peaceful than I’d felt in a very long time. I was beaming – radiating joy! My troubled mind put to bed that baggage once and for all.
Letting go of the present in the second conversation was a little different. This was a conversation that I’d been having with God for a few weeks but all in-and-about the present (if you can wrap your head around that). I’ve been asking God what the purpose of life is. I know… Dangerous question and an answer you’re going to have to stay-tuned for. It’s gonna need another whole post to explain, yet I believe it’s actually very simple. Anyway, the answer I received about this, had added a weight to my mind. I felt like a lemon in a world of racecars with important briefcases and meetings to attend. Disconnected – basically. In a time of late night worship, God lifted this weight. As I write this, I am reminded of a lyric which says “the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”. That’s exactly what happened. In my awe, I realised what really mattered. His love for me.
The third conversation – about the future – was with someone new to me. Lewis has his own church, but has recently joined The Loft at St Mary’s to experience other communities. We had spoken a couple of times but I hadn’t ever had a proper conversation with him. One of the troubles I had been thinking about lately was that I didn’t have enough people in my life that thought along the same lines as I did. Following Jesus in this world has always been counter-cultural and after a while, can be quite lonely. God created us to be in relationship with one another, as well as with Him. Putting it plainly, as much as I love my friends – I needed some more Christian friends too. After the worship, there were multiple optional stations to do, leading us in creative prayer. Instead, I suddenly felt called to approach Lewis and literally ask him to be my friend. I was also very aware that was quite a strange thing to do. However, I didn’t feel weird about doing it, because I already knew that Lewis and I thought along those same lines I was talking about, and he would understand that God often calls us to do uncomfortable things that end up benefiting us greatly. I did feel like I’d gone back to nursery though! My request for friendship and my explanation of calling was met with kindness and… well… friendship to be honest! We proceeded to chat and work our way through some of Darrel’s creative prayer stations. In that one slightly awkward moment, I let go of my future and entrusted it to God. He has my life in his hands. He will provide me with all I truly need in life.
Saturday 20th April – 2:30am
I bet you’re expecting me to say that everything was hunky-dory from then on till my Baptism. PLOT TWIST! Next comes the attack.
After being released from everything that I was bound by, I decided to try to get a couple of hours rest (considering the events to take place the next day). It was here in my dreams that it all came rushing back in an encore. Except, when I was “troubled” previously, it was a constant but mild disturbance consisting of various issues I felt were present in my life, swapping and changing over time. This now, was extreme bursts of intense disturbance – everything at once. I never used to believe in the Devil as such. I always believed that anything evil was just the consequence of sin or the absence of love. I still believe that. However, the Bible does talk about Satan and he was very real to me that night. I don’t believe Satan has any power over God’s children but I believe he will squeeze into any cracks he can to encourage suffering and separation. These mental attacks didn’t stop when I woke up only 2 hours later, either. I started doubting myself and fencing with Satan between my social interactions. I used scripture to defend myself and tried to get more sleep when I arrived home.
Saturday 20th April – 2:30pm
Sleeping all day. Head spinning. Eyes closed. Suddenly open. Awake. Nothing in front of me and yet I could swear to you I was staring into the eyes of something. With a hardened face, I said out loud “You have no power over me anymore. I belong to God. Go. Away.”. Just like that, whatever it was, was gone, along with the thoughts that had been restraining me. I went back to sleep. I’m not sure how common it is, but I don’t think I am the only one to experience this prior to being baptised. It would make sense if it was Satan because it used everything I had just made peace with, to try and prevent me from being saved and it also fled at the mention of God’s name. Who knows? However, I know it won’t be back anytime soon.
Saturday 20th April – 4:30pm
Okay! Scary bit over. You can come out from behind the sofa now. [Enter Joy!] I woke up and made myself presentable for my family to arrive in half an hour’s time. My lovely Nanna and Pops and Auntie Jen came over to stay for a couple of nights over Easter. Dad cooked an amazing dinner and we really enjoyed each other’s company. My grandparents came down from Sheffield and Auntie Jen, from Scotland! I went to bed early, still being pretty exhausted, but excited for Easter morning.
Sunday 21st April – 9:30am
HE. IS. RISEN!!! What a cause for celebration! I practically jumped out of bed singing Happy Day. I eagerly got dressed and ready for church and didn’t stop singing all morning. Church was packed and everyone looked so happy! I hadn’t been to a morning service in a whole year (evenings are more my cup of tea). I enjoyed seeing so many people I hadn’t seen in a very long time and introducing my family to my home church was a pleasure. I also got to test the temperature of the water I was going to be immersed in. Lucky for me, it was nice and warm! And then Matt wiped his wet hand all over my face and told me I didn’t need to get baptised anymore! The cheek of it…
It wasn’t until lunch-time that I remembered chocolate was a part of Easter too! Nom.
Read ‘Pt.2 – The Baptism and Aftermath’ to find out the next part of the story. In my opinion Pt.2 is much more interesting, but I felt Pt.1 was necessary for my hard-core followers. Hey Mum! XX