I cried in church today. And I’m OK with that.
It happens every time there’s a baptism service. Of course, part of the reason the tears start to fall is because I’m reminded in a very powerful way about how deep and wide God’s love is for me. And then I remember two of the most amazing moments of my life: baptizing Aiden and then baptizing Aly a year later. Then I think of how I hope and pray that Mihret will choose to be baptized one day, which makes the tears flow even more freely.
And then I think of other people I’ve had the honor of baptizing. People like David, Ginny, Peter, Jerry, Tom, and Jim.
This inevitably leads me to thinking about the people who had such an impact on my own story while I was growing up. Now, some may argue that I haven’t grown up. They’d probably be right. But that’s not the point. I’m talking about people who stepped in and made a difference in my life during my formative years.
I grew up in a God-fearing home. Some of my earliest memories revolve around church and being scared of the Preacher’s Wife because I thought she was mean to me when I had to sit by her during Sunday evening service. How dare she expect me to sit still and be quiet while the service was going on? Even with that legacy of faith that my parents established for me, I still had to take this faith I had inherited and make it my own story. I came to that realization because of people who surrounded me and encouraged me to make that faith my own.
So while I witnessed the baptisms today, I couldn’t help but think of the people outside my family that God has used in ways they can’t even imagine.
Cheryl Stroud led some pretty amazing children’s choirs and challenged me to be more than I thought I could be.
Todd Bussey baptized me, married me, and ordained me. I think you could say he’s a pretty special guy.
Dr. Gerhart (we always referred to him as “Mr. G.” in Scouting circles) has always encouraged me and challenged me to continue to work at becoming a better man as a leader and as a disciple. He has been a shining example for me, reminding me that scholarship and faith are not mutually exclusive. He also taught me how to worship God when surrounded by His creation.
Scott and Corri Brooks were like second parents to me during high school. A small group of us met in their house every Wednesday for the better part of four years. Their shared desire to follow Jesus at home and in the workplace couldn’t help but rub off on me.
There are other faces that show up in my mind’s eye, too. People like the Teskes, Nova Conner, Judy Taylor, Jack Arney, the Hedwalls, Jack Bruce, the Gowers, the Linges, Pam Jordan, the list can go on and on…
I guess you could say they are my own personal cloud of witnesses. God used them to shape my faith. God used them to shape my story. So I thanked God for them again today. I prayed for them again.
And yeah, I cried for them, too.
Who has had an impact on your faith? Who is in your cloud of witnesses?