When I was 13 years old and newly-baptized, the pastor of youth at the church my family attended sent me a letter of encouragement.
My mother was recently going through old papers when she came across a letter sent to me when I was newly-baptized.
The letter was from the pastor of education and youth at that time. I remember that pastor as a very nice man who prayed with me prior to the actual baptism.
It’s interesting now looking back at that letter and what he had to say about the process of becoming a Christian.
Here’s how it began.
It was three paragraphs, but I’ll share just the first one.
I am so happy that you have asked Jesus to come into your heart and that you have accepted Him as your Savior and Lord. When you prayed and asked Jesus to come into your heart, He Did. He will always be there. He will never leave you or forsake you. Sometimes you may not feel as good as you did when you prayers, but He is still there. He will not go away. He loves you so much, and He wants to talk to you often. You can tell Him about yourself by talking to Him in prayer. Yell Him what you need. When you have a problem, ask Him to help you out. You can learn more about Him by reading your Bible, studying your Sunday School lesson, and coming to church.
The second paragraph describes the times for church and Sunday School as well as other ministries that were available at the time.
He ends with an invitation to call on him (the pastor) if he can ever be of help.
I’m assuming that if you’d read this far, there’s a good chance that you’re a believer, at least to some extent. I don’t know why a non-believer would care what such a letter might say.
I’m still a believer, although I don’t really consider myself a Southern Baptist as I was at the time. I considered myself one at that time only because I attended a Southern Baptist church. I don’t consider myself as being of any one denomination.
Frankly, I think being a Christian is enough. I’ve yet to find any denomination I’ve been impressed enough to want to claim that one as completely a match to what I believe.
Do I still believe the sentiment of the letter?
Keep in mind that the letter was written to a 13-year-old. If it seems a bit elementary, that’s a good reason. I had overcome a fear of being dunked underwater and had the chance to actually express that fear.
But even today, at an age far older than 13, I do still believe the message in that first paragraph.
I do believe that Jesus doesn’t leave once you ask Him in. A lot of Christians seem to think that’s not the case. They debate year after year whether one is “once saved always saved.” I believe one is.
But I have experienced times in which it may feel God is distant. I think most Christians have, even if they’re not newly-baptized.
It may well be that some won’t admit that, but it’s true.
If you’re a non-believer, I can’t really explain it to you. It’d be like trying to describe color to someone who was born blind. There are certain things you have to experience for yourself and on your own.
In October, it will be 36 years since that Sunday morning I was baptized.
I don’t regret that decision one bit.