I have had a lot to think about in the last few months. Or another way to say that is that my emotional capacity has been stretched a lot lately, and I have spent a good deal of time thinking about the implications of what I feel. Or, Being a Normal Christian happens.
In the last six months, there have been great moments of exhilaration, dark periods of concern for friends and family, frustration with events that impact me and others, but that I can’t control. My devotions have been dry from time to time, but then there have been days in which Bible reflection has given me much clarity and hope.
Today was an amazing day. 28 people from my church were baptized (actually two last week who could not be there today). Twenty or so of them were teens from our youth group. As a volunteer in the youth ministry I have been really close to four of the teens, and I have had the privilege of leading a guys small group, preaching the occasional Sunday sermon, and going on missions trips (this past year to Philadelphia).
I am still perplexed by a lot of things in faith. Like, for example, does prayer really work? Some of my friends hold that the future is exhaustively settled, and everything is pre-determined including salvation. I should mention, that this past summer I have read a book on Calvinism (everything is settled) and a book on Open Theism (only some things are settled), both of which, in my opinion, have compelling arguments for each of their positions.
So, today, were 28 people pre-ordained to be saved or did they make free choices to follow God? Honestly, I don’t know. However it happened, 28 people went into the water and came out different people.
But here is the thing I want to share. On one of the last nights on the missions trip this summer (there were 60 teens and 20 adults) we were worshipping and praying after a long day of work. It was a highly emotional and spiritually uplifting moment. One teen, I’ll call him David, was off by himself. I knew he had a lot of issues in his life, but his name was suddenly on my heart in a big way. And so I started to pray for him, and I beseeched the Lord to comfort him and to show him His mercy and Grace. For probably an hour I kept praying for David, and at one point I went over to him, put my hand on his shoulder and I simply prayed, “Lord, save him now.”
Never stop praying for God’s mercy. I don’t know my role in this whole thing, but I am convinced that my prayers a month ago and the events of today are immensely connected.
Today, David was baptized.