TalmidBen's edut

         A heathen I was, searching for the substance to fill my soul in almost all of the wrong places. I knew that God was real, I don't think I ever seriously doubted that. Anyone who looks out the window at the world knows that an Intelligent Being created this amazing habitat of biological diversity. It's hard to believe a rational person could think such beautiful animals as the tiger and giraffe came from the same mythical pre-biotic soup. To be sure the Bible says, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." I have always loved to think, philosophy, and ponder the vast and unfathomable expanse of space and of what lies beyond it. Now, I know. 

         In the winter, my dad and I would sit outside in the hot tub and gaze into the expanse of seamless eternity. Questioning each other like Socrates and Protagoras in the soothing water counterbalanced by the cold air, we would contemplate the shape of the universe, the theory of Relativity, and God Himself. However, no one seems to believe that winter is the best time to philosophy in a Jacuzzi, an idea that stems from the thought that summertime is ideal for swimming, an observation of which, fails to distinguish from diving  in the cool deep as the sun blasts upon you, and relaxing in water over one hundred degrees perfectly offset by the winter air.  Mind bending discussions resonated above the water, as two shadowy figures were immersed in steam, while Orion swung his club against a backdrop of endless darkness arrayed with the diamonds of quasars, stars, moons and the Milky Way. 

        "What do I have to do to be saved?" I asked my father. What he said next, I remember not, but Messiah Yeshua was definitely the answer. Being about twelve years old, I didn't understand much about biblical precepts, but I had a thought that baptism was a part of or had to do with, somehow, being saved. 

       "Have I been baptized?" I asked, hoping that somewhere in my past as an infant, I may have of fulfilled the "requirement" that I may be heaven bound. 

       "I don't think so," I think my father responded, "Me and your mom have been." 

       "How do they do it? Do you need to be a priest to baptize someone?" I questioned. 

        "Nah, do you want me to baptize you?" He asked. 

        "Yeah," I replied seriously, deeply desiring to seek God's face. 

        My father told me to hold my nose, while he moved into the position to dunk me under the now still, but soothing water. 

        "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your savior?" My father asked firmly. 

        "Yes," I then replied, wanting that assurance that I would be destined for eternity with God. 

        "I now baptize you in the Name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit," my dad said with authority. 

        Swoosh! The water engulfed me, and soon I was above the water.  I didn't see any angels or supernatural phenomenon. But I felt God. He was in my heart. 

        As I lay down in my bed that night, I was amazed by the infinite peace that ran through me. I remember describing it to myself as sort of an "energy, that was running through my bones." However, as time progressed, and with no spiritual support, no church, no guide in helping me in the understanding of the Bible, I began to shrivel spiritually. The pinnacle of intimacy with God that night grew darker, and farther away, becoming more distant as time flew by. 

        Six years later, after a life of sin, rebellion, and violence, I made a promise to God. Actually a couple of them, but I needed Him to get me out of a terrible predicament, similar to the predicament Jonah was in after running from God. However, I didn't run from Him, I just didn't have anyone at that point in my life to tell me which way to run. Now, at this time in my life, I had delved into deep trouble. Unfortunately, I squirmed my way out of going to jail, and got by the "skin of my teeth" in other serious issues. A heathen I was, searching for the substance to fill my soul in almost all of the wrong places.  In the midst of it all, I called out to God, "If you will get me out of this, I will go to church every Wednesday and Sunday. Please God!" Miraculously, I came out clear from all of my obstacles. With a clear path ahead of me, and a scholarship to college, I had decided that I would aspire to becoming one of the great artists, and art would be my god. Yet, despite all of my sin, and Godlessness, He still loved me, and was going to hold me to the promise of commitment. 

       One morning I awoke, and felt a burning desire to go to church.  After looking through the phone book early that morning, I spotted it. It was the church an ex-girlfriend of mine's father pastored.  "That's where I'm going," I thought. 

        My girlfriend at the time and I went to the church, and listened to the sermon and sang songs to Jesus. I was kind of embarrassed to sing songs though, as it was a bit awkward for me. The pastor gave an invitation for those who would like to be baptized, a rare occurrence in that church, and I knew this was God's moment for me.  This was it. If I turned back now, I would probably never return to church, unless it was Christmas, and only then if my current girlfriend invited me. The baptism service would be in the evening at 6:00 p.m. so I had time to get some swimming trunks or something of the sort.  However, "the Chicago Bulls play the Utah Jazz for the championship tonight, Game 6, this could be it!" I thought. 

       However, I still knew this was my moment. "Forget M.J. we're talking about God here!" I exclaimed within my head. 
       Swoosh! As I came up from the cool water of the baptismal, I felt Him again. Actually, on the way to the tank, I felt His Presence, and I was sobbing, because I knew He would make His home within me. Not that my act of baptism earned it, but His grace and forgiveness on account of Jesus Christ, His Son, made it possible. Whatever that burning desire was that came and woke me up that morning, it was the same "energy that was running through my bones," at age twelve. I felt that same peace that day. I remember about two days prior to going to church, I asked God to let Michael Jordan hit the last shot to win the game. They lost Game 5, but Game 6 was Sunday. However, I had to choose to between the Lord and M.J., and of course Jesus Christ won hands down! But when I got home that night, it was half time. And do you know who hit that shot at that last second to win the game? That's right.