Today was one of those days that I hope I remember for a long time. Today I got to experience the glory of the Lord, along with the rest of our Church, in a way that I've never experienced before. I'm not even sure how to convey the depth and breadth of it, you truly had to be there, but I'm going to try because it was such a powerful morning!
As I mentioned a few days ago, we are walking through the book of Matthew in Church right now and this week, our Pastor was preaching out of chapter 3. Specifically, the event that kicked off Jesus' public minsitry, his baptisim. After a few minutes of exposition, background, etc. the most wonderful thing occurred. Our Pastor gave us an opportunity to put some action to our faith. To listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and to respond in immediate obedience. He gave an invitation to anyone who wanted to come forward and be baptized on the spot. As most people were thinking, "What?? How are they going to handle that?? He explained that they had already thought of everything, i.e., clothes to wear, dry towels, toiletry items, dressing rooms, etc. I read one of the volunteers mention on facebook, that they hoped for maybe 30 or so people to respond, but no one and I mean NO ONE could have predicted what happened next. In 3 services, 277 people streamed out of their seats, down the aisles and to the back of the worship center to get in line.
As they got backstage, they were greeted by a staff who must have recieved them with complete AWE of our God! Because this wasn't meant to be a persuasion by numbers, or a casual "commitment", each one was quickly interviewed and recorded to make sure that this was a step they were ready to take. An act of obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and a beautiful response to the call God places on every believer. GO PUBLIC and identify with Christ through the waters of baptisim. Not because baptism saves you, only Jesus can do that, but because we are unashamed of our Savior and because He asks us to do it. Through immersion, we identify with the death of Christ by lowering all of ourself under the water and then as we are raised out of it, we identify with the resurrection of Jesus and the new life His blood has provided. It's a beautiful picture of what He has done for us and a public proclimation that we belong to JESUS and our life is now hidden in Him. Anyway, what unfolded this morning was a script no body could have ever dreamed or written.
One by one, people flooded the aisles and as we sang in worship to our Lord, we watched one baptism after another...10 first hour, 120 or so 2nd hour, and 150 or so 3rd hour!!! Do you know how long that takes to baptize that many people??? And can you believe that with each one, there was true JOY and rejoicing?? Claps, cheers, tears, and pure emotion. And all because of the Lord. I watched as little ones went forward, teenagers, young adults, husbands and wives, whole families, Grandpas and Grandmas, you name it, we watched it! Our Pastors took turns baptizing 2 or sometimes 3 people at a time. One after another. Some were grinning from ear to ear, some were crying, some were throwing their hands in the air...but all were walking into those waters with obedience and pure abandon. It was incredibly moving and I don't think I'll ever view baptism the same.
What stirred my heart most, was that no one was planning on doing that today. It wasn't advertised, no arrangements were made. People didn't have an extra set of clothes and cameras weren't on standby. Truly the Holy Spirt was moving and working this morning, doing what HE wanted to do, and we had the privilege of watching 277 people respond.
This afternoon and evening, it's been so fun to see the news feed on my facebook, FULL of statuses referencing what we all encountered today. People in awe of the Lord, people rejoicing with each other and hearts that can't quite get over what we all saw. I would imagine that there was incredible rejoicing in Heaven today! And in those lasting minutes, I believe we got a taste of what Heaven is going to be like, when we are gathered together with fellow saints in praise to the Lord! And if my heart is even a portion as overwhelmed as it was today, I cannot imagine the JOY we have to look forward to in Eternity. I cannot imagine the love for our Savior that will pour out of us.
My parents were with me today, and although they really knew no one who went forward, it was just as memorable for them as it was for me. Incredible day. Incredible God.
Praising Him tonight!!
So thankful for our Church.
So privileged to worship alongside fellow believers at Grace.
What a morning!