The summer of 2007 brought North Carolina one of the dryest summers I can ever remember. It was also the baptism of my husband, Craig, and I on August 26, 2007. If you had told me the prior year we would both publically accept Jesus as our savior making that claim by immersion the following year, I would have debated you. After all, I was able to talk Craig out of being baptized in 2006…the painful year of our seperation.
Craig and I were both baptizied as infants; our SMC baptism was different as we came to God at the darkest moment in our lives. We needed God to take up residency in our lives to mend our broken hearts. We became seperated with no hope of reconciliation, so we thought. Divorce was in the picture, so we thought. After 13 years of marriage, Craig walked into St Mark’s Church over a decade ago; me, I ran as far as possible from God. What broke up this couple who were inseperable Once Upon a Time? Selfishness, addiction, finances, deception, stuff, and everything else inbetween.
Now for the good news! God can use our “discards” to make our lives so beautiful. Because Jesus went public about His love for us, we can go public about our love for Him. Being baptized shows that we have turned away from a life of sin toward Jesus…the only one who can change us. That is exactly what happened to us! Craig finally convinced me to attend SMC service with him. Once I visited SMC, my life changed with each passing week; our marriage became one again; we started praying every day; we started serving others and were free from all of our past burdens. We changed so much from the inside out, and we wanted to tell everyone about our Savior. We knew the true meaning of joy, peace, love and comfort. Our lives were headed in the direction God planned for us…one step at a time from the water’s edge.
Peter said to them, “Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Then God will forgive your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you. It is also for your children and for the people who are far away. It is for everyone the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38-39).
Craig and I have shared our story with Re|Engage at SMC on how God’s mercy and grace restored our marriage. I am so excited and honored to introduce one particular couple we bonded with at Re|Engage, Brian and Suzanne Eller. Today I want to share their baptism story with you.
Their Chains Are Gone…Brian & Suzanne Eller August 30, 2015
Brian and Suzanne are no different from any other couple in our community – marriages are challenging and it is a team effort with God. They previously described their relationship with God as a “check the box” type of Christian. For a couple who have attended SMC for a combined 42 years total, it wasn’t until last year when they gave it all to Jesus! When asking Suzanne how it felt at the water’s edge last August 30, 2015, she replied, “…we felt lighter as though the weight of all our sins, shame, anger and disappointments were gone. It was a beautiful and refreshing feeling when walking out of the water leaving the pain behind us.” Their chains were gone and have maintained freedom in Jesus! Their commitment to making Jesus famous is so enthusiastic, contagious and their joy radiates when you are around them!
During 2015, both Brian and Suzanne prayed about being baptized and made a conscious decision to surround themselves with other followers and do more than “check a box” each Sunday. Their “to do” list always has God at the top and any opportunity they are offered to mentor others or serve in a ministry; they are accountable to make their contribution. They knew after their baptism God had special plans for them – as for working with a spouse to make Jesus famous in our community, there could be no greater love found. You will not find Brian and Suzanne sitting on the sidelines! They realize baptism doesn’t save a person; it’s a symbol of salvation, and a celebration and a time to get busy! It has been nine years since our baptism and one year for the Eller’s; each year their love grows more and more for our Heavenly Father. There is no difference whether it is one year or nine from your Baptism, what matters is what you do for others and how you represent Christ!
When hope is beyond our grasp, God offers a promise of refuge and strength. Take the extra step at SMC’s annual baptism next week into the water’s edge… you will find no greater bond than His love from above. You are loved immensely from here to eternity. I may have talked Craig out of the 2006 baptism, but I am so grateful because our faithwalk started together in 2007 and we gave our life to Jesus together. What a new beginning for any life! Will you come to the water’s edge next Sunday? God certainly changed my mind…a decision I debated just a year earlier!
Together in Christ, Craig & Lynne