Today I was lowered into a tub of water. Renewed, refreshed, and washed cleaned.
I was 15 the first time I was baptized, young, giving my life to God as I understood him; however I was also a Jehovah’s Witness. Being baptized as a JW means you are baptized into that cult. At the time I didn’t fully understand the ramifications.
As I questioned the hypocrisy and the teachings of the JW’s, I moved out and disassociated myself from them in my early 20’s, however, they still considered me a JW. The witnesses, or my parents, looked for a reason to take action against me I guess, sort of an “example”. Often one of my parents would try to call or stop by my apartment to try to “catch me” in some sort of sin. By the year 1984, I found myself dealing with a roller coaster of emotions. In the Spring, the JW’s disfellowshipped/shunned me after a prompting by my father stating I was not living a Christian life to their standards. During the early part of July, we buried my mother after a cancer battle, and my father denied my presence at the casket when JW’s approached. Later, in October, I was married, and my father boycotted attending our wedding and my siblings felt pressured to follow his example.
I felt betrayed, abandoned, unworthy and unloved by my father and siblings. Mainly by my father.
It took me quite a few stubborn, bitter years to acknowledge my part in any of my sins for how the JW’s have treated me.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us”. 1 John 1:8
It wasn’t until Oct, 1988 that I was able to reconcile my life to God, and started my spiritual awakening and understanding of Jesus Christ.
Understanding Jesus and what He has done for me was like a refreshing drink of water to a thirsty soul.
Grace a gift, freely given.
Sins, once confessed, are then forgotten.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” Psalm 103:12
People, were the ones that were continually judging and condemning me, not God. Not only could I forgive my family, I could forgive myself. Looking back, I can see how he has used some of those desert wandering years. One day I will understand all the pieces.
I re-affirmed my baptism in the Lutheran Church, however, I would still think about it once in a while. The whole JW thing would still haunt me at times. I’d talk to different pastors about it. I was told re-baptism wasn’t necessary and/or they’d forget about it. So, I’d stop thinking about it, for awhile.
I didn’t want to negate that I originally gave my life to YAHWEH and Jesus that I knew and loved at that time, just negate the cult. I’d wonder: how confusing would it be to see me doing it again, and I’d think I would have to explain my story. For years I didn’t want to talk about my experiences with the JW’s. See, I was in control of my story. Who I told, and who I didn’t.
However, it started coming to my mind again. Recently during my small group, it came up. Actually, I brought it up, and the girls said to me, usually if God wants you to do something he will keep bringing something to your mind. I was reminded that my understanding was a more mature understanding, not the youthful understanding I had. I most definitely had spiritually grown.
So I deliberately prayed about it.
“Okay Lord, if this is something you want me to do, nag me about it. Hound me about this. I mean ALL the time, so much that I HAVE to come to a decision of either doing it or accepting I’m okay with where I am. Resolve this for me. I don’t want to not do this because of pride, what will people think, I want to be obedient to you, so hound me Lord. Oh, and if it’s not too much trouble; on Sunday, let there be a message about baptism to confirm it.”
That Sunday there was a message about upcoming baptisms and Jeff talked about Jehovah’s Witnesses in his sermon. Does God have a sense of humor or what?
These last few weeks we’ve been studying about Exodus on Sunday mornings. The last few years I’ve been studying, reading and re-reading the Old Testament.
I don’t think this is a coincidence. This is a God-incidence. This is a God’s thumb print puzzle piece.
Over and over again YAHWEH asks his people – do you trust me?
Over and over again He’s asked me – do you trust me?
Time and time again he’s told His people:
Yes, you’ve seen struggle in finances, health, jobs and relationships. My power is made perfect in weaknesses. I am in control.
You try to control things and it never works out the way you ‘think it should’. Dear one, I’m glad you want to help, but give in. I am in control.
You’ve had people hurt you and others you love with sinful and unloving behavior. I love them as much as I love you. I am in control.
You’ve been betrayed and abandoned by people who you’ve trusted. I was, I am, I will be. I AM NOT LEAVING YOU.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
My JW life has been dead and gone, and now it has been washed clean from me. My life and story is His to control as He sees fit.
I see the Promised Land. I want to cross over.