Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (4) Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (5) Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:3-5
After that day the LORD called my name at age 5, my only memories that related to God for about 5 years are a smattering of Sunday school stories, random memories of sitting with my parents in the main service and falling into a deep sleep when the pastor would start preaching, and a ceramic rainbow that says “Jesus Lives” I painted one Sunday after hearing the story of God’s rainbow promise to Noah after the Flood. (I still have that ceramic rainbow which my wife hung over our window in the kitchen)
During those years, my dad had retired from the Air Force, and we proceeded to move often. Even more than I remember when he was in the Air Force. Most of the places we moved were in the desert, between California and Utah. When I was thirty-two I would discover why in a very clear conversation with the LORD on a Friday morning. (more about that another time)
By 1980-81 we were living in Utah, and moved around multiple times between Roy, Clearfield, Layton, and Ogden. We attended the First Southern Baptist Church (in Clearfield?) and the Pastor’s name was Lavoyd Robertson. I was ten years old, and one Sunday morning while sitting with my parents in the main sanctuary, the Pastor began preaching a sermon. This time I was wide awake.
I remember vividly his call to repentance, and asked that if anyone wanted to receive forgiveness of their sins, accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and escape the eternal flames of hell, to come forward.
My heart began to race. My lies that I had told, my fits of anger and outbursts, my hatred toward other kids for picking on me and making fun of my last name, all of it came to remembrance. At that moment I knew that I was a sinner, and was guilty before a Holy God. At the same, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get in trouble for “embarrassing” my parents.
I jumped to my feet and walked down the aisle between the pews and straight up to the pulpit. I wanted the forgiveness of my sins, I wanted Jesus, and I wanted to change. I also wanted to be baptized.
I don’t remember anyone else coming forward. But Pastor Lavoyd prayed and then had someone take my name and information and told me to go back and sit down, and that after the service someone would talk with me and my parents.
Pastor Lavoyd made the appointment, and soon afterward was at my house to talk with me about my decision. I remember him asking me pointed questions about why I wanted to be baptized, what sins I thought I had committed (to determine if I even knew what sin was). I had a clarity about the whole conversation, and spoke about what I understood. He was satisfied with my answers and spoke to my parents about arrangements for the baptism.
A few Sundays later, in front of the whole church, myself and a few others were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as a demonstration of what God had done in us spiritually.
I still find it ironic that all of this happened in a Southern Baptist church (there were very few) in the heart of Mormon country. That would play a big part in the spiritual warfare that came against me and my family while we lived there.
“On the day that the children of Israel were led out of Egypt, through the Red Sea as a type of baptism, and into the desert. Saved by faith in the blood of the passover lamb, whose blood was on the doorposts, no longer slaves of Egypt, now children of the Most High God, led into the wilderness to learn to trust God. So it is with every disciple of Jesus Christ.” – taught to me by Jesus