I am, without a doubt, the most stubborn person I know. I was raised in a church family, and by the time I reached my 20’s, I decided that I didn’t need to go to church. I was a fundamentally good person, a hard worker, and I was generally fair and polite to others.
In January of 2008, my grown son wrote me a letter that “rocked my world”. He basically told me that he cared about my soul, and that my thinking of “it’s what’s in your heart that matters” was flawed.
In April of 2009, my wife Abby and I decided to attend church. We visited several churches. I really wanted to attend a mega church, but realized that part of the reason was so I could just sort of “blend in” with the crowd. I spent many hours going on line to review church doctrine. After all, if we were going to attend church, we had to agree with the church “doctrine”. It took several weeks of study before I realized that church “doctrine” was a big part of the problem. I finally realized that there was only one church doctrine, the Bible.
It was quite the coincidence that April 5, 2009 was the first day that we visited the Golden Church of Christ in Golden, Colorado. April 5th just happens to be my son Brandon’s birthday! We never looked back. We attended church, we studied, and for the first time in our entire lives, we started reading and studying the Bible.
Abby was baptized that July, and we changed our lifestyle. For the next 4 years, we became more and more involved in church. We were part of the “family”.
The more that I learned, the more aware I was that something was still not right. I still had a feeling of doubt that would sneak up and tap me on the shoulder once in a while. More recently, that doubt would hit me right between the eyes. The more I learned, the more I began to realize that I was not as smart as I thought. I was too proud and too stubborn to admit that I was wrong! Here is a quick outline of events:
- When we met with the Elders 4 years ago, they asked me about my upbringing. They asked me about my salvation, about my beliefs and about specifics when I was baptized. I answered all the questions right (in my mind).
- More recently, one of our dear friends at church was baptized (again as an adult). That bothered me, because it caused me to doubt. She had stated that she thought she might have been too young when she was first baptized.
- One of our other close friends at church preached (when we were waiting for a new preacher) a sermon on “Little Words”. One of those words was “IF”. Once again, I found myself bothered with doubt.
- While visiting my daughter and her family a few months ago, I happened to catch our grandson during his piano lesson. We could not go in, but could stand outside the classroom door and wait. At one time, I looked through the window and saw these young little 8 year old hands playing the piano (pretty well, too). Something hit me. It was again doubt. I was 8 years old when I was baptized in the Baptist church. I realized at that moment, that from what I had learned the last 4 years or so, that I would have been too young at 8 to really know what I was doing.
- I read a key point on a postcard project that I have been working on for about 6 months. The plan involves postcards and EDDM (every door direct mailing) in order to evangelize and to try to help bring people to our church (to help lead others to Christ). The line is “eternity…it’s too long to be wrong”. One night while I looked at the proofs doubt hit me again.
- In early December, Abby was introduced to a book. As she read it, she shared some of the high points with me during our morning Bible discussions. The book is Muscle and a Shovel. When I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down until I finished. Much of it could have been my story, but instead of having a “Randall” I had our entire church family preaching, teaching, training and encouraging. I finally realized that it is alright to admit that you are wrong. I realized that I had spent a lifetime (50 years) being wrong. I had been taught wrong. I was brought up being preached to and expecting someone else to teach me everything I needed to know (because that’s the way we did it). As long as you went to church, you were doing what God expected. WRONG! If I have learned anything in the last 4 ½ years, it is that WE HAVE TO LOOK FOR OURSELVES. WE HAVE TO STUDY FOR OURSELVES. NO ONE ELSE CAN DO IT FOR US.
- I was baptized Friday night, January 31. I stopped by the church to visit our preacher. I told him “I want to be baptized”, not “I think I want to be baptized”. There was no question, and there was no doubt. Our preacher quickly turned his already opened Bible to Acts 19 and we read together:
“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them….”
Adam, our preacher, wisely suggested that I call Abby. While I was on the phone with my wife telling her about my decision, Adam made a couple of phone calls. It was only a matter of minutes until the cars started pulling up, and within a short time we had a dozen brothers and sisters who had dropped whatever they were doing on a Friday evening to share in the event.
I thank God every day for my wife, for His church, for our church family, and most of all for the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ and God’s grace and plan of salvation. Now it’s back to work on evangelism, but with clearer purpose and understanding. No doubt.
One of my very favorite verses: