I am very grateful for my upbringing in a Christian home - grateful both to God, and to my mum and grandmother, who told me about Jesus and took me along to church, but allowed me to find my Saviour for myself. So, in principle, I’ve always known that Jesus died for me, and have always said I’m a Christian. Well, almost always: there was one time, when I was about fourteen, when, struggling with whether God was real and faith was worth it, I decided to ‘try out’ not being a Christian for a bit, but I am glad to say that I couldn’t do it - or rather, God, in His infinite mercy, did not let me stray from Him. I decided that life has no sense without Him.
But I cannot say that that was when I became a Christian. Rather, God has gradually made me more convinced of the truth of His existence, of His love for me, of Jesus‘ death, which paid for my sins, and His resurrection which gives me hope of life with God. That does not mean that it’s all been plain sailing: I struggled with whether my apparent faith is the inevitable product of my environment; I deluded myself with a sense of false superiority, assuming that my faith was in order, better than others’; I have felt really quite awkward talking about the good news of Jesus with others.
These, among other things, have meant that for ages I had little desire to be baptised; I sort of knew that I should be, but frankly was a bit too embarrassed. But I came to realise that in this way I was actually being disobedient to Jesus, who calls us to “repent and be baptised”. And I realised that if Jesus humbled himself to walk among His creation on earth, to die on a cross and experience the full wrath of God, and this for my sake, then what can I refuse Him, in the face of such boundless love? And God showed me that, yes, “while I was a sinner, Christ died for me”, but that doesn’t just mean that His grace was only for some unidentifiable time ‘before’, when I was not a Christian. It means that His grace is sufficient - more than sufficient - for each and every day. “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand”, as Romans 5 verses 1 and 2 put it. So I didn’t have to be perfect to be baptised, putting it off with excuses of dealing with this new sin or that one. I just have to trust Jesus. And so I prayed and asked God to give me an excitement and joy at the prospect of baptism, to overcome the fear, and He did! “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness”.