I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was 7 years old during Vacation Bible School. I grew up going to church, was highly involved in youth group and attended a Christian school 5th grade through graduation from high school, then attended Bethel University. Needless to say, I was never really challenged on my faith or what I believed in. After graduating from Bethel, I moved to Milwaukee, WI. I was away from my family, the church I grew up in and almost all of my friends. I went to church for a bit, but once I started justifying decisions that were outside of what I knew I should have been doing, it became too shameful and uncomfortable for me to go. Additionally, I basically cut-off ties with my family and friends because they were not agreeing with my choices.
In July of 2014, I had what I term my “come to Jesus” moment. God in all of His amazing sovereignty and grace forgave me and welcomed me back with open arms! Since then, I have had to work on re-building trust and relationships with my family and friends and again, through God’s grace I have been overwhelmed by their willingness to forgive! When I reflect on the years I spent running away from God, I am often brought to tears when I remember so many instances that He was still with me, even though I was choosing to ignore Him. Goodness, His love overwhelms me! Baptism to me signifies my total surrender to God and the ability for me to express such external joy at the internal peace He has lavished upon me! His ability to forgive and truly forget what I have done, has allowed me grace to forgive myself and joyously live as a new creation in Christ. Isaiah 43:18-19 and 25, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland … I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
ERIC CONNER III