I woke this morning with a renewed sense of faith and hope. I had somehow forgotten that “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to the purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV. Our Father works stuff out for us, even when we can’t see how it’s going to turn out, or that we want it to turn out a specific way. We lose sight of God’s plan for us, and forget that His answers to our prayers aren’t always obvious, or what we are asking for. Some of you know that I’ve been very committed to improving my prayer life, to the point that I am using electronics to keep a list of my prayer lists and have set a reminder. Now I am renewing my commitment to my personal devotions and Bible studies. I discovered there is an app for our denominations quarterly study. Downloaded! I also have committed myself to finally reading the Bible cover-to-cover over the course of a year. Can you believe that even with 8 years of religious education, I can’t say that I’ve read the entire Bible. I imagine I have come close, but usually only in bits and pieces, and fits and starts. That will be my morning devotion. With God’s help, I will also be reading a daily devotion in the evening from Beautiful in God’s Eyes, a daily devotion for women.
What has brought this all up? First, I imagine we all, at one time or another, have struggled with our faith in some fashion. I am no exception. Also, I haven’t exactly been the best example for my kids. Sure, I believe, and profess faith, and belong to a church. They see that, they see that I also try to live right, and trust God. Have I ever had devotions with my kids on a regular basis? No. Do they see me having regular devotions? No. Do we attend church like we should? No. Do I realize that they are coming to an age where their friends and family within our denomination will start being baptized? Yep. In a way, I am glad my girls don’t attend church school. They will not feel the pressure that comes with the stage they are in school/life where all their church school friends are being baptized, because it seems like the thing to do. Yes, there is an element of peer pressure there. “Everyone else is doing it, I should too.” I honestly sometimes wish I’d waited. I’m pretty sure I was 13. My husband has expressed the same feelings, I believe he was even younger. (Caution: slight deviation & rant to follow.) At the time of my baptism, there were things I said in my baptismal vows that I didn’t adhere to. (Unless I’m delusional one of them involved not going to the movie theater.) I felt like a hypocrite. I did and do still adhere to 99.998% of what I remember vowing. I just looked up what the current baptismal vows are, and they seem to have been adjusted. Maybe I am not remembering my vows right, as it was 23 years ago, that the movie theater thing wasn’t involved. Honestly, as an adult, looking at the current baptismal vows, the only thing I’d have a problem committing to now is not consuming alcohol. Not because I need it, but because I enjoy the occasional drink. I do not get drunk. I don’t enjoy that. I can honestly say I’ve NEVER had a hang over from alcohol. (I say it like that, because a couple of years ago, I burned my right hand terribly, and was given a shot of Dilauded in the ER, which left me with a hang over.) I don’t waste tons of money on drink, I don’t spend my grocery money, my house payment, or my utility payments on drink, nor does it cause me to neglect my family, my home, or any of my responsibilities. I consider it a non-prescription form of Valium, Xanax or Ativan. I do not have a drink every night, nor every week, nor every month. (I’m also not saying it’s wrong for anyone to do, it’s just my personal preference.) I enjoy having a drink, now and then. I do not find that these things interfere with my relationship with God. And to use a tired example, Jesus did turn water into wine, and it wasn’t grape juice, you can’t get drunk off grape juice. The verses I am referencing here are John 2:1-11, NIV. The summary is: Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding, and has it taken to the master of the banquet, where the master of the banquet is quoted after trying the wine, “everyone brings out their choice wine first and the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” Would your perception of the quality of grape juice be affected by when it is served? Um, I don’t think so.
Back to the baptismal issue….I want my girls to make their own choices in this regard. Do I want them to be baptized and to join our church? Yes. More importantly, I want to set a good example for a relationship with God. Most of all, I felt a need to draw closer to my God, to understand better what He has to say to me, that includes not just strengthening my prayer life, but by studying God’s word.