Every couple weeks, my friend Jen and I have a “small group” (it should really be called “tiny” group) through FaceTime. We choose a book to read and will read a set amount of chapters, then FaceTime to discuss it. This week our discussion revolved partly around sacrifice and obedience. In our chapters we read Isaiah 58:2.
For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
I had to read this verse over and over to let it sink in. (I want to encourage you to read the entire chapter of Isaiah 58 to let the whole chapter to hear more around this verse. Read it two of three times if you have to, it’s meaty.) I can almost feel God’s emotion behind these words. Paraphrasing here- They constantly pray to me and seek me out, like they do what is right and as if they do not abandon my commands. So these people that God speaks of desire to be near to Him, but have no desire to follow His ways. Have you ever had friends who constantly tell you that they want to hang out with you, but then never follow through with actually hanging out? Or how about that guy who says he is SO interested in you, but he never actually makes time for you? Are you like me in disliking when things like this happen? Well, yeah, that is a bit like what was going on here on a much bigger scale!
I am going to share with you my journey to being baptized 3 years ago. This scripture describes my attitude towards baptism when I first began going back to church. I wanted to seek Him. I wanted to follow His ways. I wanted Him to be near. I did not want to be baptized again. This is the story of how God slowly opened my heart, but even though He was opening my heart I still wanted to do things my own way.
My name is Jessica Schneider. I grew up in Norwalk, CT, and was raised going to a small church in town, and was baptized as an infant. Although I knew about Jesus and who he was, it was not until mid-high school at church camp that I realized there was a difference between knowing who Jesus is, and knowing Jesus. That is when I decided to start following Jesus. I lead a life following him probably until early college. At that time I did not have a strong community and very quickly went down a VERY disobedient path. For about 7 years I pretty much did what I want, when I wanted and really didn’t care about God. I kept feeling Him call me back to His ways but I was having fun, and really flat out just didn’t care about what He wanted.
It was about 4 and a half years ago, that I felt so low and lost in my life of sin that I didn’t believe my life was worth anything. I was just plain existing opposed to living. The only place I knew how to change that was church and seeking God again. That is when I walked into the doors of Sanctuary and have not turned back, and that is also the start of God pouring His faithfulness and love over me, and fixing the mess I made out of my life.
Now, June 2013, I feel more alive than I ever have in my entire life. God has turned my weaknesses into His strengths, and brought me to places beyond what I could ever dream. Continually God has shown me over and over that His ways lead to abundant life, and that by being obedient to Him is the only choice for me. The fruit of obedience has often brought me to tears.
Over Easter weekend, I was thinking a lot about the cross and what our response to the cross should be. I immediately thought of thankfulness for what Jesus did for us sinners, and although I think we should be EXTREMELY thankful for what Jesus did for our brokenness, that thankfulness seems cheap to me unless it ultimately inspires a life of obedience. I am sure that you can all relate,when I say that there are so many times daily that I am disobedient to what God calls me to do (whether the obedience seems big or small, to God it is significant).
Baptism was something that I wrestled with God with for 4 years. If I was living for Jesus, why did I need to be baptized right? Or maybe for you, if I desire to know God, why do I need to follow His ways? Every year it was the same thing over and over. Well this March on a business trip, I finally felt like my heart open to baptism, and told God okay, and this is how we are going to do it. I won’t get baptized in front of the church, I am going to get a few friends together at the beach, and they will baptize me, no big deal. Well, those were my plans and not His. I was being disobedient, and if I have learned anything from reading the Bible lately it is that God does not favor those who are disobedient. For example, Moses did not get the blessing of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land because he did not follow God’s instructions. I have always said that I would hate to get to heaven and have God say to me I had this for you to do, and I had to have someone else do it, because you were not obedient. So this Tuesday morning I woke up and after reading the story of David, the man after God’s own heart I had a strong desire to be obedient and be baptized today, and I am excited about it!
This baptism is my outward response to the cross, obedience to His word, and my deepest desire to live in response to His love.