It was 1972. I was in the water, tip-toeing in an effort to see the people.
The Pastor picked me up and my mother came into view, the water tickling as it ran down my leg.
He said a few words. I think it was something about walking in “newness of life.”
Then he held my hand over my nose, dunked me in the tank, and I came up to the hearty “Amen”s of the old men.
It was my baptism experience.
It’s where my faith-journey began.
I was raised in the church; a very broken church
But then again, weren’t we all?
The church is comprised of broken people so I don’t know why we expect it to be whole.
But we do. And we resent it when it’s not.
Until we grow up. Until we finally comprehend that…
He seems to delight in crafting us into who we are to be over the long-haul, through many mistakes and sins, in spite of them, in fact.
That’s what makes Him God.
But growing up Christian has it’s down side…
A constant pressure. An expectation.
That I’ll “be good” and “do right.”
That I’ll follow the rules and not get into trouble and never be a disappointment.
It’s the kind of pressure that births legalism, not godliness.
Creates a self-righteous saint rather than a humble, dependent one.
Teaches me to talk a good talk in order to impress, to win favor, to display my sanctimonious self for all to see.
But I quickly find that I don’t have what it takes to back up the talk.
So I keep on talking, hoping nobody looks closely at the lack of action that speaks louder than words.
And we carry that right on into adulthood
Going to church. Doing good deeds.
Helping in Sunday School and singing in the choir.
Raising our hands when the emotions hit us as we sing the newest Chris Tomlin song.
Nodding our heads when the Pastor makes a good point.
Taking notes – lots of notes.
But I wonder… I wonder…
Am I OK? Is God happy with me?
Why would I ask such self-doubting questions?
Because I know in my heart of hearts that actions speak louder than words.
Especially when the actions are only actions, without anything genuine under the surface to corroborate them.
When they flow out of a lifetime of religious habit rather than from a Christ-obsessed heart.
That’s my story.
It’s how I lived for many years.
Running on the fumes of the very genuine conversion of a 5 year old.
There wasn’t enough Holy Spirit in my tank to run a lawn mower across the front yard, much less run a life for a lifetime.
But no more.
Long ago I decided…
- I want to live out the “newness of life” the preacher spoke over me at my baptism.
- I want it to be real in my soul and therefore in my actions.
- I want it to be real in my marriage, my parenting, my friendships, and in my business.
- Nothing left behind. Nothing off limits.
- I want Jesus to have it all, to fill it all, and to receive glory from it all.
And it’s easier said than done
There we are, back to the words and actions again.
Back to the fact of inconsistency, the reality of duplicity, the truth that I am helpless without the power of Christ in me.
And I’m glad to know it because it’s exactly what I want – Christ in me.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
As Paul said in another place, “I want to know Christ.” I want to know the reality of Him living in me and through me, Him being the life and energy for every step.
I want it to be Him caring for my family. I want it to be Him running my life & business.
What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
Think that question through. It’s a tough one.
We spend so much of our lives trying to get ahead, to do things right, to make our lives count.
And when things don’t turn out that way, we don’t know what to do.
What do you tweak?
How do you make changes?
Should you make changes?
How do you know?
Sometimes, you don’t know. Sometimes, you need help from another Christ-follower who’s a bit farther down the road.
Somebody who’s been there before you, who’s come through the very thing you’re in right now.
That’s what a good friend can help you with.
That’s what your Pastor should be able to guide you to discover.
That’s what a life coach is trained and experienced to do.