Sunday, August 12, 2012

One Day, I Was Born

One day, I was born. Soon after I made my first trip to church. Ever since then, like a faithful hen laying its one egg everyday, I've returned nearly every week - only missing a few Sundays because of sickness. In addition to that for many years we came to Wednesday night church as well. Ever since I was baby I was surrounded by a Christian environment. My life was saturated with it. Christian parents, Christian family, Christian friends, Christian music, Christian books, Christian summer camps, Christian movies; reading and understanding the King James Version of the Bible is second nature to me, I have a Christian thought pattern, I see through the eyes of one redeemed by Christ.

One day we were driving home from church. We had the green mini van and my parents were much younger. There was only my older brother and I. When Dad helped me out of the van in our driveway I looked up at the sky. It was full of clouds with glorious sun beams falling down from above. God had things keyed up to full splendor. I looked. My blue eyes were opened wide in amazement, then pointing my chubby little finger, in a hushed voice I said in awe "Daddy look, there goes God."

I don't personally remember this but Dad has told me this story. To this day I continue to be blown away by the sky. It is one of the most glorious things in all Creation. I remember in later years when I was still young looking at those sunbeams and imagining that God was shining a flash light from Heaven. I really believed at those moments that if only we could get high enough we would be able to climb through the hole and get into Heaven.

When I was five years old we went to church one time in the middle of the week not on Wednesday or Sunday. We met with Pastor Neil and I went into his office by myself. The office was a little big, it was dim with beautiful furniture made from a dark wood. There were lots of books and papers and a few chairs. We talked for a little bit and he showed me his scorpion trapped inside of a glass bubble. He used it for a paper weight. Then he asked me some questions. Some how I have this part of it in my memory as being kinda close to the door with him crouching down the same level as me,he was holding my little hands in his. "Do you believe that you are a sinner?" Yes "Do you believe that Jesus came down from Heaven and died on the cross to take away your sins?" Yes. Then he said a prayer with me telling me to repeat after him. I did so dutifully and then he gave me a hug when we were finished. His face was full of smiles. I smiled too. But, it was not like I expected. In Sunday school I had been lead to believe that you would feel something different when it happened, but for me that's not how it worked. I just said a prayer and was pronounced saved.

Then next week I was baptised. Along with two of my friends Ali and Emily. We went in the back of the sanctuary behind the choir seats. We put on special white gowns and went up skinny steep steps, then a door opened and even steeper steps lead down to the baptismal. Pastor Neil was standing in the water and greeted us with a big smile. Ali and I could swim but Emily couldn't so she used floaties. I was just barely tall enough to touch the bottom with my tip toes. Pastor Neil talked for a while but I don't remember what he said. When it came to be my turn he took me in his arms. Then with a white washcloth over my eyes he pronounced those sacred words, "I baptise you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." I pinched my nose and he dunked me. I left the baptismal through the door on the opposite side and someone was there with a towel to help me dry off and get back into my other clothes.

That was how I was baptised. It was a special moment and it was a true baptism.

Still, throughout my younger years I was plagued with doubts of my salvation. Why didn't I feel anything different right after I finished the prayer? Was I really saved? Am I going to Heaven when I die? Does God love me? Sermons at church were preached often about the need for repentance and how we were sinners and we needed to come to Christ. Pastor Neil got all fiery up there in the pulpit. I got scared sometimes and went up to the mint green steps when he issued the alter call. I prayed and prayed hard. I told God how many times I had sinned. Please, please, please forgive me. Sometimes I would stay up late at night and stare at the night light by my bed. A moth would come and would fly around the light. The glow seemed to get brighter and brighter and sometimes dark spots would swirl in the outskirts of my vision. There in the dead of night is when my fears hit me the hardest. I could not wrench my eyes from the light. It was scary out there in the dark. Am I saved?

Well the years went by, I grew tired of constantly worrying about my salvation. I decided that when I died I would find out and there was nothing I could do about it now. I drove the questions out of my mind and slept better at night. Still, sometimes those thoughts would come back and I would worry. For the most part though I was able to forget about it.

Our family began to go to different churches. We veered from the Baptist denomination towards a more reformed way of thinking. It was in one of these new churches, Heritage Bible Church that my mother was baptised. When I saw her up there in the baptismal in her white gown I was so confused. My mother was never a Christian??

We moved to Missouri, I was eleven years old. We hopped around in churches for a while, never quite settling anywhere. In the year 2009 we and another family started our own church. Our pastor and his family were sent to us from Providence Church. We are a mission church and they are our parent church. (At least I think that is the term) I played piano for our church just like my first piano teacher. I have wanted to do this ever since I was five.

In the recent years, I can't tell you exactly when, I have begun to understand salvation in a whole new way. I believe in paedo communion and paedo baptism because of my personal experience. For me there was never this black and white difference. There was never a moment when I wasn't beloved by my Heavenly Father. There was never a time when I was not his child. I have always been. Even when I didn't realise it when I was a baby. One day I was not a pagan, and the next a Christian. I grew up Christian all along. I don't know when or how I was saved. It wasn't when I said that prayer with Pastor Neil, I was a Christian the moment before that and the moment after that.

Certainly I am not belittling the genuine total transformation experiences some Christians have. They were not blessed to grow up in a Christian enviorment like I have. The difference was immediately tangible to them. They could tell, they got that special feeling. I, knowing nothing else from my birth, can not tell a difference. I believe that God has chosen certain people to be saved. They may be a Christian from the moment they were born like I am, or they may become a Christian later in their life. In both cases, God has chosen specifically to call that person his child. It does not matter in what way a person comes to be a child of God, all that matters is that they are.

I am not able to explain the theological reasoning behind paedo baptism and communion, but I do know that it is acceptable, as are baptisms that occur later in life. The little babies baptism is just as genuine as mine was when I was five years old, or even my mothers when she was a grown adult. It is a special thing for me to see every single child in our church take communion, even the babies (I'm not talking newborns, just the ones that can drink out of a cup. It would be foolish to try it earlier. ;) Sometimes I get to grinning so big that I lose place of where I am in the song and the only thing that keeps me from completely messing up is my finger memory. Thank goodness I know the songs!

How secure these little ones must feel in their Fathers love! They will never have those torturous doubts as I had. They will never lay at night in bed afraid to fall asleep. I praise God for this, and with his blessing I will raise my future children in the same way.

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