I recently celebrated the anniversary of my baptism. As I looked through the pages of my scrapbook, I found something I wrote and laughed--not because my writing was especially witty, but because of how naïve I was.
I thought my faith was so strong and that I had fully submitted to God.
Even as I type those words, I can’t help but chuckle. I’m not beating myself up. I’m just amazed at how much God has grown my faith over the years. When I got baptized eighteen years ago, my faith was much stronger than when I first accepted Christ sixteen years before that.
Image courtesy of Lorianne Lee
I didn’t grow up in the church. My immediate family never talked about God. Some of my extended family attended church, but the only time I went was on Easter, and that was for the annual pancake breakfast.
When I was in high school, I had a couple of friends who were Christian. But I don’t remember ever talking with them about God or what it meant to be Christian.
What I did know was that I was starved for love and acceptance.
During my junior year in high school, the woman who played piano for our school choir invited me to a Young Life event. I don’t remember anything about the event except for one thing. This woman told me that Jesus loved me. That was it.
Hearing the words, “Lorianne, God loves you,” was all I needed. I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.
And I lived happily ever after.
Yeah, that’s not how it actually works. But I didn’t realize that at the time. All I knew was someone told me Jesus loved me, so I said the prayer and that was all there was to it.
There was no magic wand. My family was just as dysfunctional. I didn’t go to church, and I had no one to talk to about God. I didn’t even know I could talk to God directly.
The woman who led me to Christ moved away, so as far as I was concerned, I was alone again. I had no idea what it meant to be a Christian. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I didn’t ask and I didn’t grow.
Eventually, God led me to work at a school with some Christian teachers. I finally heard people talking about God. I began listening to Christian radio, and I found a church to call home.
After more family drama, failed romantic relationships, and broken friendships, I finally realized that God was the only one who would never leave me nor forsake me.
That’s when I decided to recommit my life to Christ and get baptized. My baptism was a public proclamation of my decision to surrender to the love and leadership of Jesus. So, in June 2001, I publicly recommitted my life to Christ.
And I lived happily ever after.
Nope, it still didn’t work like that. My faith at the time of my baptism was greater than when I first accepted Christ, but it was all relative.
When I reflect on my current-day faith, I see my trust in God is so much stronger than it was. God continues to put people and situations in my path that challenge me as they had in the past, but I try to respond and handle them differently.
It’s not easy, but each time I acknowledge God’s faithfulness, it reminds me of his goodness and I can choose his will over mine.
This past year I have prayed that God would grow me in wisdom. I don’t want to study books and learn more facts. I want to be able to apply what God teaches me so I can be more like him.
And in true God-has-a-sense-of-humor way, he has answered my prayers. Sometimes I feel like God is working overtime, giving me too many opportunities to gain wisdom. I feel like I can only stretch and grow so much. It’s hard and I get discouraged.
But when I feel like I can’t take any more, God also gives me exactly what I need. Time after time, God has given me Scripture, a song, or perfectly timed affirmation and encouragement from friends.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (NIV, emphasis added).
This excerpt from Do It Again, by Elevation Worship, really resonates with me because it speaks to God’s faithfulness and my need to keep choosing to believe.
I've seen You move, come move the mountains
And I believe, I'll see You do it again
You made a way, where there was no way
And I believe, I'll see You do it again…
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I'm still in Your hands
This is my confidence,
You never failed me yet…
I never will forget
I know my faith today is stronger than when I became a Christian or when I got baptized. I choose to believe that, years from now, my trust in God will be even stronger. I look forward to that.
In order for that to happen, though, God must continue to give me very challenging opportunities to act on my faith. That I am not looking forward to.
But I believe that God loves me, will be with me in it, and will help me get through it. That’s a sign that my faith is growing.
Lorianne Lee was a teacher for nineteen years, and she has been a part of The River Church Community for seventeen years. Lorianne is a creature of habit. She doesn’t like surprises or change. In fact, she admits it bothers her if someone sits in “her spot” at church. Lorianne appreciates God’s sense of humor, and she finds it ironic that God is changing her in so many ways. Lorianne wants to be open to whatever God has planned, even if that includes change.