Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Seeking Jesus at Any Cost

I've known Jesus Christ for most of my life. Correction: I've known about Jesus Christ for most of my life. Christ Jesus never really made personal sense until the age of 17 when I had what I refer to as my first spiritual revival. My first baptism had occurred at the age of 11. All my friends had been baptized a year or months before I finally made my decision. It makes me wonder how the pastor could have baptized me when I answered his question this way: I want to be baptized because I want to go to heaven. He smiled and said I can't remember what, but since I had shown up at the pre-Baptism classes Sabbath after Sabbath, he thought it would do no harm to baptize me. I can't say I understood what baptism really meant. All I can remember is how I shivered in my wet baptismal gown as the air-condition blasted the changing room where all the other men, teens and young boys changed into warm, dry clothes. I seemed to be paralyzed with wonder and awe as I sat immobile in that makeshift dressing room which was the scene of perhaps the largest baptism I have ever been a witness to.

My seventeenth summer and its new-found consecration to Christ started what was to be a life-saving span of years for me when I really did become a new person. Nevertheless, personal problems took their toll and five years later I slid into the slipstream of young adulthood with catastrophic results.

Two years later the hedonism of New York City's underground clubs and above-ground temptations left me cold and I headed back to church and my second major revival replete with my first rebaptism. This time I really had something to repent of instead of the vague mini-sins of early childhood and its simple reasons for seeking baptism. In spite of being reintegrated into the fold of believers I never felt that I was an accepted member of the family of Christ. Some church members made me welcome, others did not. Nevertheless, I persisted as I had nowhere else to go.

Five years later, I had found a new maturity as an adult and had found a more rational approach to living my life which unfortunately led me further and further away from the Christian faith though not entirely. I could not ever risk not praying or asking for the gift of the Holy Spirit. My prayers were probably not heart felt, but they comforted me with the realization that I kept on saying them and that they helped me in some way. When troubles more acute than any I had ever experienced threatened to literally end my life, it was God's favor and mercy and the words of Psalms I had learned as a child that kept me from going insane and losing all hope.

Twenty years later I mercifully experienced my third spiritual revival and--yes, my second rebaptism. I had been told that one rebaptism was a serious thing, indeed, and that it seldom was necessary or should be entered into with great purpose or need, but a third rebatism was almost unheard of though I'm told that there are others who have been rebaptized more times than they have changed the make and model of their car. As five years came and went I felt relieved that this time the third time was for good.

Impatience with unfulfilled expectations threw me into experimental and foolish attempts at empowerment five years later. Five years later is where I am right now. Through all the challenging and perplexing changes I have been experiencing for most of this year, I am grateful and amazed that I continue to read my Bible every morning and most evenings along with the Spirit of Prophecy. In spite of old and new temptations jumping in and out of my life for half a year now, I still continue praying, waiting, holding on for dear life, and trying to make sense of the complicated Christian I have been for most of my self-aware life. The very fact that I have a desire to document all three major spiritual revivals and intervening crises of my life, is a miracle. You see I was supposed to have died at 17 on a twisting, wet and dark highway where the friend I was sitting next to died at 14.

God must have a mysterious purpose for my kaleidoscopic life. I am still waiting to find out what that elusive purpose might be.

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