Picture this: You’re invited to church by your sister/friend/cousin/mom/other and you take the offer because you have found yourself at an end. Your to the point where you have tried it all so why not God? So, you go to the service and you feel loved by those around you, you are welcomed in with open arms, with smiles, you have conversations, deep ones, about what you have been going through, what you have been facing. You begin to pray and those around you pray with you. You feel a love rush inside of you that you have never experienced before. You feel God speaking to you. You start speaking in a language you do not know nor do you understand it, all you know is that it feels good, like the missing puzzle piece. You feel an overwhelming joy inside of you. You begin to cry hot tears and you continue speaking until your voice begins to wane. Finally you come to a slow and those around you ask if you felt it, the holy spirit. You smile and say a cheerful “yes.” They then ask you if you would like to be baptised in Jesus Name an have your sins washed away? You wholeheartedly agree and you get changed into the robe and head toward the baptismal tank. You step into the lukewarm water, the people of the church pray over you and with you and the pastor says “In Jesus Name!” You come up out of that water refreshed and clean. All sins forgiven, covered by God’s blood (Romans 6:4). You spend the next hour being congratulated and talking with those at the church. They speak to you about how wonderful it is to begin a new life with God. You leave that place on top of a mountain. Ready for anything the world has to throw your way because you have been filled with the holy ghost and have been baptised in Jesus Name. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”
Situation #1: You wake up monday morning and you go about your normal routine. On your way to work/school you get into a fender bender. You begin to ask yourself what was happening? Why did this happen if you are covered by God? The mess gets figured out and you get back on your way to work/school. The boss comes to you angry and frustrated about your lateness and doesn’t care to listen to your story. Again your mind begins racing as to why? Push the thoughts away and finally get to go home after a long day. You sit down on your couch at home and see the cigarettes sitting on your coffee table. Not wanting to smoke you walk to your fridge to find something to eat only to open the door to find beer sitting in your fridge tempting you to drink. The devil begins whispering “you’ve had a long, hard day, you deserve just one.” He says “You didn’t throw them away because you knew you really weren’t changed yesterday, you fell into a trap. You are the same lost person you were yesterday.” You slowly slip as your mind races.
Situation #2: You go home after an amazing day at church and you go through your whole house, throwing out all the cigarettes, the beers, getting rid of all your clothes that showed all the skin you once walked proudly around the streets for all to see. You get rid of your t.v., your radio, anything that can tempt you. You call your friends, the ones you go to the club with, the ones who curse, the ones you take your smoke break with at work, you tell them you have changed and you can’t be tempted by what they do anymore and end those friendships. By the end of the night you feel you have accomplished so much and you go to sleep at ease. Monday morning you wake up feeling great. You go about your day at work/school. But one bad argument with a had-been friend makes you tense and now you want a cigarette. You want a beer. You crave them. You want to laugh with someone but now you have no friends and don’t know who to call. Your slipping and feel lost.
This is real life. It is hard. It hurts. It surrounds you with so many choices, things good and bad to figure out. Both situations can happen to someone new to Christ. Here is the key to avoid both.
- Take it slow. Do not make life a race to the finish line (whatever that may be for you). Listen, heaven is always the end goal. The finish line. To get there, you don’t run head first as fast as you can. You can’t, you will fall and miss the mark every single time. So don’t make it a race.
- Find someone in the church who can help you along by keeping you accountable in your actions and who will encourage you. This is huge. Having someone by your side through the hard and the bad days will help immensely. And if you fall (and you will), that person or those people will be there to pick you back up and help you some more.
- Pray every day. Start your day off in prayer with the one (God) that will give you the strength you need to make it through that day. Pray throughout your day. Pray every night. Surround yourself with God. When you fall and fail (and again, you will) he will remind you that it’s okay. Trust him.
- Get into God’s word. Read the bible. It is your map to life. If you don’t know where to begin ask for help or start at the beginning.
- Baby steps. Take them. Having an addiction is no joke and nothing to play around with. An addiction that you have carried around your whole life is hard to throw away in a day. Find help. If you don’t know where to start, ask someone at your church to help. But do not try to get through it on your own. If you were able to kick the habits and addictions on your own, wouldn’t you have by now?
- Go back to the place where you felt God. Where you were filled up with Him and where your sins were washed away, go back to church. Back to the people that welcomed you and loved you. You know why I’m telling you to do this? Because they will do it again. You will feel God again if you seek Him. Being surrounded by good people will help. Being surrounded by God will help. The word says this is Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
To the church family I have been talking about:
- Love hard on those who are new. Do what God did and have grace, mercy, and above all else, love.
- When a new comer falls, do not mock or talk behind their backs. Don’t leave them. Pick them up and help them. Encourage them over and over again. Because didn’t the church do it for you at one point?
God will work in a life. He will. But he needs a soul who wants to work for it as well. A soul who wants to change and better their life. He needs a church that will do what He tells us in the bible to do. He needs both parties to be on board. Ephesians 4:22-24 says, "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." This verse is beautiful to me, it reads in Isaiah 43:18-19, Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Be patient. A change of life is worth the time and God will make a way for you.