Through a miscarriage earlier in the year God had dented my hard heart.
And I started to respond. At first with my head, but not with my heart. It’s much easier to protect than my heart.
Looking for answers, I had started going to a Bible Study with some new friends and we returned to a local church. I remember sitting in Mass one Sunday looking to be spiritually fed, and poured into.
I was waiting. And there, the priest stood, front and center and began his sermon. …About politics in the Archdiocese.
I remember thinking, “Are you for real?” THIS is what he is talking about right now??”
I was still so hurt by the Catholic church and I wasn’t learning anything. We needed something new, and intentional. My friends had talked about how much they loved their churches. It had been a long time since I felt that way.
After that Sunday, Derek and I agreed that we’d benefit from stepping away from the Catholic church. Unsure of what we really wanted in a church, we began searching for a new one.
We knew the one we were attending wasn’t providing what we needed.
Very quickly, we realized that the sacrament of communion was important to us, we wanted that in a church. The second church we visited was Netcast Church.
It had communion, a young congregation, and people up on stage who looked “normal”. So, we decided to go back.
It was my second Sunday at Netcast.
Derek was at a work event. I was there with my friend, Brittany, Landon and my unbelieving heart.
My head felt like it all made sense. Everything I had learned in Bible Study made sense. My questions were getting answered. Yes, there were things I was still struggling with mentally, but that was not my concern.
It was my heart.
My prayer the weeks before that second Sunday at Netcast was for my heart. “Lord, break my heart open. Peel away the stone. Break it open to fill the broken parts.”
God heard my prayer, and he answered it in the broken, beat up seats of Briscoe Middle School.
It was November 4, 2012. (This past Sunday was the six year anniversary of that day.) There was a tub on the ground, front and center. Though I cannot remember what Pastor Matt preached about, I remember the Holy Spirit was at work.
I could feel my heart being chipped away at.
After praying for God to do exactly this, fear started to flood in. I didn’t plan for this. I didn’t plan for this to happen today.
At the end of the sermon Pastor Matt challenged the congregation:
“I know what you’re thinking! You don’t have the right clothes!” He held up shorts and a t-shirt.
“You just did your hair, and you look good!!” He held up a hair brush and hair spray.
Matt proceeded like this for a little while, wiping away all our material, and worldly concerns.
He was making sure that we knew we had no excuses. He was making it easier to respond with obedience to God’s call.
When it was time, he counted to three, and if we wanted to be baptized we were to stand up and walk up the side stairs to the back.
I asked Brittany to watch Landon, stood and walked up those stairs, shaking.
I was terrified.
The door opened to people rejoicing. Girls were jumping up and down in excited celebration.
I was not feeling that same joy. I was feeling this overwhelming sense of brokeness.
How could I be here? This God and I, we’d been through so much over the past few months. Months yes, I can’t say years because for years I made sure He was shut out of my life.
His people shut us out, so I shut Him out. And here I was, praying to Him, asking Him to heal my broken heart. One that “His people” had cut so deeply. What was I doing there?
But that question, was less about Jesus. It was about me. I was broken, and so awful to Him. Why would Jesus want me back? Why would all the Angels in Heaven rejoice when I said I wanted to be Baptized?
Things I know the answers to now, I didn’t understand then. My heart, though chipped open by God, was hemorrhaging all these buried emotions. I was scared, confused, uneasy and started looking for an out…
I had two choices. I could proceed and be Baptized, or I could walk back to my seat. Both were equally intimidating for me.
There were 79 people baptized in the water that day. 79 people responded to God’s love and calling with obedience. I would have been number 80. Would have been.
I walked back to my seat.
And though my physical body was not Baptized, my heart was.
I got back to my seat and cried while Brittany held me. She prayed over me, she reminded me that Jesus knew. Jesus knew the change that had happened in my heart. Jesus answered my prayers. He baptized my heart.
The guilt left, and the joy came. Along with more tears. This time they were joyful ones. The brokeness was gone. I was full. Full of joy and thanks.
I walked away from that morning with a new, clean heart. I was changed, but not obedient, I didn’t know about that yet.
At home I called Derek, remember, he was working that day. I was so afraid he was going to think I joined a cult. This church was so different from the Catholic churches we knew. It was Jesus centered.
Later that day, while Landon searched for sea glass, we walked the beach. And we talked.
I told him what had happened.
He told me that when he heard my voice on the phone earlier he could sense something had changed. He now says, that since that day, I have never been the same.
True change happened in my heart, and it changed my world, our world.
After that morning, Netcast became our church, it became our home. I started taking my Bible with me on Sunday mornings.
We began to get plugged into groups and volunteering. And though my heart had changed, Derek’s hadn’t.
He has his own faith walk, he has his own story. It’s not mine to tell. But he is my husband, so his heart is mine to pray for. It’s mine to love. And that’s just what I did.
I prayed for Derek. For his heart. For his relationship with Jesus. And I loved him, possibly more fiercely than before.
I knew I wanted to be baptized. I knew I wanted to make that public expression of what Jesus had done in my heart, in my life. But I also knew that I wanted to wait till Derek was ready and we could do it together.
After three years of praying, Derek and I were baptized together.
On September 20th 2015 I cried many happy tears, tears from that struggle of love. Not love from one another. Love from Jesus. I cried tears from the struggle of hard brokenness, and the feeling of that being washed away.
Our relationship has changed and grown so much, our hearts even more so. Jesus is a part of our marriage now, He is a part of our family. As we make decisions we try to make them in ways that will glorify Him.
Last month we had another Baptism Sunday with our church. 50 people committed themselves to Christ, publicly. Privately, I’m not sure how many, but I am sure there were hearts being split open that day.
I once told Landon that I cry at baptisms more than I cry at weddings. He laughed at me and asked why.
Well, they are similar, they are an outward expression of an inward work, change, and love. But with baptism, there is no divorce rate. It is God, moving in their heart, and they are responding to Him. Those individuals are giving Him room to grow their hearts.
They are giving Him the declaration and celebration that He deserves.
And Jesus in return, is giving them so much more, redemption.
HeatherNovember 8, 2018 at 9:48 am
…tears and goosebumps – I have known you and your beautiful family for many years, and although we have not been close in many of those years, my love and care for all of you has never diminished – we all shared some beautiful moments together in the name of God in a space that was then tarnished by hypocrisy and judgement which forever changed my spiritual journey as well. I am embrace and appreciate that change in my as it truly enriched and enlightened me so much more deeply. I can relate on so many levels to your experience and I also feel so blessed, as I have told you many times before, to be able to share some of your experience through social media and now through this amazing window into your soul, your journey, and your precious family. Thank you <3
AmandaDecember 4, 2018 at 10:42 am
I know I could of texted you this but. Friend your faith is sharpening mine. Mine who’s faith has been holding by a thread sometimes. God is so paitient and good while we go through the wildnerness to find our way back to him. Actually he leads us back to Him. Thanks for being so bold and brave and I’m so thankful for you dear friend. You are a gift.