Today I got baptized. Another milestone on my renaissance and journey and together with my sweet wife, and brave young Katey which made it an extra special occasion. It apparently made an impact on my children as well as the middle one could not stop telling me how cool it was that we got “hypnotized today.” Since it is habit to share your thoughts I prepared myself and write down the notes below. I hope they may serve others in finding God (again). And since I know are waiting to read this (after some Facebook chats with the Netherlands) I decided to stick to the original story below and forget about extending it with biblical references etc. I will save that for another occasion.
I was a Christian without God. I cannot speak about a my religious upbringing cause there was none, with the exception perhaps of bible classes in primary school and on a Christian High School (but that was because of the quality of teaching and the possibility to do arts as a major).
In fact I was on a mission against God and religion. It was a great distraction from my homesickness and I picked up on my ‘spirituality’ at the same time. I became a Christian without God, with the New Testament as the ‘ultimate guide to humanism;’ Jesus as a self-help guru.
Finally, things would change for the better. I got a job back where I belonged, in the Netherlands, and a dream job for that matter. I would travel ahead and bring the family over at a more suitable time.
Sometimes seemingly small events may well be very important in your life. For me, us as a family I should say, it was a brief encounter with Gideon and Catherine at the Caltex prior to our (last) trip to Hanmer. Gideon handed over a fumbled card of Harmony Church, “his last one on him” and invited Alieke to by all means come down at some point in my absence.
Here I was in the Netherlands experiencing one of the hardest reality checks in my life. Everything I had so longed for seemed no longer attractive, and most of all what a God forsaken place it had become. But… wait… I did not believe in God. I finally realized that New Zealand was by now my home more than I had dared to admit all those years: I was a “banana republican” with an epiphany.
I came back as quickly as possible and thanks to the incredible assistance of Doeke our former brother in law. Strangely enough I came back with an urge to go to church. Hey; that would actually make for a nice billboard. But which one to go to ; I trusted none of them.
We tried Harmony and the rest is history, you heard it all just before Christmas and I will not repeat it again. It can all be read here >>>
I think I even understand now where the urge for church came from: it can’t have been anything else than God reaching out saying:
“Listen, you have been studying, nagging, criticizing and writing about me long enough. It’s time you get to know your subject of investigation upfront and personal. Most of all, Jesus as a teacher? Get real, he never left you this option.
And what an incredible encounter it has been so far. An immediate change of heart, of soul of spirit, new eyes and ears, insights, understanding and inspiration. Even my initial mission now seems to have had a purpose as it provided me with a rich cross-religious (including atheism and agnosticism) awareness and apologetic foundation. I guess it was all part of the plan. (I was in a boot camp and never realized it.)
A lasting change so it seems, for which I am eternally grateful. I think I understand now what they mean by a ‘new creation’ in the Bible. That is how it feels for me. A new sense of peace and purpose and slowly thanks to a lot of talking over and forth with Him, His plan, my calling is getting clear. I can’t say a smoothly paved road is slowly enfolding itself, far from that; it is not too hard to imagine the challenges ahead. I can’t say I a,m perfect now; in fact I suck at being perfect. But for Him, through Him, in Him I, we I should say, will find a way through.
So, my baptism today makes sense, which is important for a rationalist like me. It is a public sealing of what has been happening ever since November last year. A life committed to God, in God, through Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit. “Love, devotion and surrender” as Santana would call it. With the deepest gratitude and humbleness; a big thank you God and to all that have been instrumental or part in the little and big miracles along the way so far.
Man the water was cold my heart was and still is on fire.What an awesome day. Thanks all of you coming own to celebrate this special occasion with Alieke, Katey and me. Thanks Gideon and Katherine, thanks all of you for your kind, supportive and encouraging word and images. Thanks Jonny and Kelley for making the pool available and of course Josh, Jonathan and the others for the playing and sound. I was proud of you Josh and it was special having you play (your homework gggg).