I wasn't exactly sure what I was doing when, at nine years old, I was baptized by my father in a river – and I'm OK with that. There are people who think nine years old is premature for a person to be baptized. I'm actually surprised my parents didn't have me do it sooner.
“Gross.” That’s typically not the word I think of when contemplating a miracle Jesus performed, but there’s one exception.
I have this one childhood memory that used to haunt me. When I was in first grade, a careless adult did a great deal of damage with very little effort and it seemed like the hurt from that incident couldn’t be undone.
One Sunday morning when I was in my early 20s, my mom came up to me after church and said something that stuck with me: “I notice you always pray to Jesus. You should think about calling God ‘Father.’” I thanked her for her input but it agitated me a little. I was more comfortable keeping things on a first-name basis with the Lord and starting all of my prayers with “Dear Jesus.” I didn’t like the way it felt to address God as my male parental figure. I already had a father-son relationship and it was complicated.
I was five years old when I walked into my mother’s bedroom and told her I wanted to give my life to Christ. We got down on our knees beside the bed and I asked Jesus into my heart. After that, I proudly told everyone that Jesus had saved me, but my pride slowly diminished over the years.
Seven years ago, I was having a conversation at a birthday party when I suddenly felt like I was in a dream. My voice felt far off, the room looked two-dimensional, and I couldn’t get my eyes to focus. Fifteen seconds later it stopped, but that episode was only the beginning. I started having a variety of other bizarre experiences. Sometimes it seemed like I was watching a scratched DVD — other times I would lose my words mid-sentence or forget how to type.
I have a friend who was once known for her strength, and now she’s becoming known for her weakness. Rachel Wilhelm, a popular guest writer here, has felt her body break down over the last year. The only diagnosis doctors can offer is fibromyalgia, a mystery illness known for pain, acute weakness, and frequent sleep disturbance. Yet somehow in the midst of it, God has taken Rachel’s weakness and made something strong out of it. Here’s her story, in her own words:
One day last year, I was in a little convenience store in downtown D.C., where I quickly grabbed a drink and headed to the cash register. Three ladies were working, and when I looked at the youngest of the three (in the center of the photo) a simple phrase came into my head and seemed like it was just for her: Don’t settle for less.
The other day my seven-year-old daughter said something I wasn’t expecting: “Daddy, I know a bad word.” Oh no, I thought, my worst fears about the D.C. school system are already coming true. “Oh really?” I said casually. “What word did you learn?” “The S-word.” I cringed.
I went through a long, dark time a few years ago. I prayed that God would end it, that He would set me free from the people and circumstances that vexed me. He did not.
A lot of people struggle with knowing the exact moment they got saved. It seems impossible to figure it out. I wrestled with that for a long time until I found the answer in Scripture. He’s a Facebook video where I talk about that …
A few weeks ago, there was an unpleasant and unfair turn of events in my life that knocked the wind out of me. Feelings of disappointment kicked in. Those feelings eventually turned into anger, and the anger turned into a low-grade anxiety. I couldn’t stop looking in the rearview mirror and reliving what happened.
I’ve recently experienced a breakthrough with a years-long relationship with fear. The topic pricks a lot of people’s hearts because so many of us live with it, and we don’t even realize it. It’s important to identify it and acknowledge it if we’re going to get free from it. This is my story of how God has been helping me do that. I shared it in this video on my Facebook page:
Throughout my 20s, one of the biggest sources of stress in my life was the fear that God didn’t really love me and that I would never really know where I stood with Him. At one one point, however, I put His love to the test: I went on a sinning spree that took me further than I wanted to go and convinced there was no way back.
“Color with me, Daddy,” my oldest daughter said. “I prefer to draw a picture, but I don’t what to draw,” I said.