This past weekend was incredibly special, as Hallie, our nine year old, was baptized! She had asked Jesus to save her back in the spring, but then COVID 19 came on the scene and temporarily shut down churches to in person services. But as some normalcy was returning, it was time to follow through with baptism.
Hallie was a nervous wreck, but quietly excited about it. Even as she sat through the service, she was on the verge of tears. The thought of getting up in front of people was terrifying to her. The two scheduled baptisms that morning were spread out, one at the beginning of the service and another at the end. In between, they changed out the water for COVID reasons. And of course, she had to anxiously wait through the whole service for her turn.
The church has a really cool practice before a baptism. The new believer writes out their testimony, or the story of how God saved them. They don’t necessarily have to get up and read it in front of people…that just adds to the nerves! Someone else in the church reads it for them, so that the everyone can hear the work that God did in their life.
The first young lady had a pretty incredible testimony. She was saved after leaving a rehab center for an eating disorder, and had struggled with multiple suicide attempts since. But she found Jesus through it all. Her words were “The person I am now, is a completely different person than the one who went into rehab.”. It was a great story of what Jesus can save us from.
The children’s minister read Hallie’s testimony, and it looked quite different from the first. It went a little something like this….
‘Before I became a Christian, I hit and kicked my sister a lot. I was disrespectful to my parents. When my mom would make me apologize for something, I would, but I wasn’t really sorry. Now that I have Jesus in my life, I hit my sister less, and I try not to be disrespectful. When I do mess up, I apologize and actually mean it.’
There were several chuckles at Hallie’s admission of trying out WWE moves she’d learned from her dad’s videos on her sister when she was mad. But this testimony of the work God did and is doing in Hallie’s life brought up two important points. Points we as adults can learn from this kiddo.
God’s saving grace is just as exciting and praiseworthy, regardless of your story.
This was something I used to struggle with. I led a relatively normal life, didn’t make a total mess of my life, was saved when I was six….you know the story. And somehow I thought that what God did for the former prostitute turned Jesus-follower was somehow much more grand than what He did for me. So I hesitated to tell my story, because I felt like it didn’t measure up.
When you compare the two testimonies from this weekend, it would be easy to draw similar conclusions. God saving a girl from an eating disorder and sparing her life amid multiple suicide attempts surely trumps a little girl actually being sorry for hitting her sister, right?
Wrong! There is no ‘trump’ here. God’s grace is just as big, magnificent, and endless regardless of where it’s lavished. Now that’s not to say that the quantity of grace may vary. If you’re a parent, you know that sometimes one kid needs a little bit more grace than the other one. Just because you’re more generous in relation to need, it doesn’t make your love or kindness to your less needy child any less powerful.
God sent His only Son Jesus to die a horrendous death on a cross for you. Because He loves you. He loves you completely and perfectly. And when you turn to Him and accept His crazy offer and choose to make Him Lord of our lives, it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal no matter what you’re turning from. Never be ashamed of your story. No matter how big or small it seems, God’s work in your life is always worth sharing and celebrating.
The Christian Journey is a Process
My favorite part of Hallie’s testimony was when she described her post-salvation experiences. She said “Now I hit my sister less.” I chuckled when she read it to me on FaceTime one night, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Her recounting was such an honest look at the Christian life.
She didn’t become a Christian and overnight decide that hitting her sister was a bad idea. She still struggles with anger, and one of those outlets being hitting her sister. She didn’t wake up the next morning and have an automatic fix for a disrespectful attitude.
But she’s making progress. She’s swinging fewer punches and speaking with a little more respect. And that’s what’s important. It can be so easy to beat ourselves up because we can’t kick a sinful habit or thought. We can be so down on ourselves and wonder if it’s worth it or not. Wonder if we should really screw up this much in our Christian walk.
I can assure you that it is, though. We need to keep on fighting to conform to the image of Christ and recognize our progress. Recognize the areas where the Lord has allowed some victory. Then we need to praise Him for sustaining us through the fight to get there.
But when we do screw up- and I promise you, we all do- we can’t stay down. What did Hallie say she did? “When I do mess up, I apologize and actually mean it.” When we mess up, do we own it? Run back to our heavenly Father and apologize? He’s waiting there with open arms and continuing grace to sustain us and build us back up.
Hallie unknowingly built in some great application for us. You fill in the blanks for yourself…
Now that I have Jesus in my life, I _________________ less, and I try not to _______________. When I do mess up, I ________________.
If you’re a believer, what will you do today to tell people about the amazing grace lavished out on you? And what will you do to make progress in your walk with Christ?
But to each of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. (Ephesians 4:7)