Sunday, April 16, 2006

Taking the Plunge... Easter Baptism... FINALLY!... :D

"As I share with you today, I know that it comes as a surprise to some of you that I'm even standing here. Many people, including some of my closest friends, probably assumed that I was baptized because I've been attending TCCC for so long. I want to briefly share with you a bit about my long journey to make this decision.

My mom and grandmother brought me to church when I was about 6 years-old--so I've been a part of TCCC for over 20 years now. Over the years, I've learned a lot about God and have been pretty active in the church. I grew up going to Sunday School, singing in the Children's choir, playing CCSA softball, joining Kyrios and eventually even serving in the fellowship. In retrospect, even though God has always been present in my life and I had been brought up with many Christian teachings and values, I'm not sure if I truly had a personal relationship with Him.

In university, being away from home, I no longer had my family and friends pushing/reminding me regularly to go to church or to keep up my prayer and devotions. I had to make these decisions on my own, and admittedly they weren't always a priority in my life. In March 2000, at a winter retreat, I was frustrated with my struggles and wanted to reconnect with God. That weekend I gained another perspective about how God fit into my life and decided I wanted to make changes. So I made a commitment to Him.

Although I finally wanted that personal relationship, baptism was still something that didn't really cross my mind. I still struggled with a few things--I felt that I still had to learn much more about my faith, and truly understand who God is. I also worried about whether or not I could overcome my sins and my flaws. I always pushed baptism aside because I thought that I needed more time to be ready.

But ever since TCCC began asking people to come up and receive communion, instead of just passing the plate, it became much more personal act. God was challenging me to ask myself what was stopping me from taking part. I started going to the Basic Christianity classes because I wanted to make sure I understood why I believed in Jesus and what exactly he'd done for me. Although I've cleared up many of my questions now, I realize too that there will always be so much more for me to learn and seek. I've had some personal struggles with various things over the last year, but in recent months, I've come to realize and accept that I need to let go and let God take control of my life. Whatever sins I've committed, whatever flaws I have, I know that I will never be perfect. I've asked God to forgive me and that's why Jesus Christ died for me. Whatever fears I have, whatever struggles I'm going through, I know that God will provide. I need to let go of all these things that are holding me back from taking this next step. God has been pushing me especially, through the messages and my friends, over the last few weeks to not make any more excuses. It seems a bit strange that it's taken me this long, but now I want to make myself wholly available to him.

Finally, I want to say that I'm eternally grateful for everyone who has impacted me so far in my life--my family who've always loved & supported me, my closest friends who have encouraged & prayed for me, other friends who've challenged me with questions about my faith, those who've I served with over the years and taught me so much, the teens who have set an example with their passion for God, and of course God for His grace in my life. By sharing with you today, I hope you can keep me accountable and continue to build me in my walk."