I never wanted to come forward. Even though God had been showing me that I needed to be baptized, I hesitated. I’m so glad that God finally overcame my resistance before everything that happened.
As a child, Sunday mornings held special joy for me. I loved getting my clothes ready on Saturday night and the excitement of the services. Several generations of preachers in my family had handed down quite the legacy. But that doesn’t mean everything was okay. For me, God seemed distant — Someone you couldn’t see or taste or touch. Perhaps it’s not too surprising, then, that during my high school years, I drifted away from church.
God didn’t give up on me, though. A few years ago, my daughter, grandchildren and I started attending Pinelake. Honestly, I’ve felt like a kid again. Saturday nights, I’m excited about getting my clothes ready just like I used to be. There’s such joy in singing praises and hearing the Word of God.
That’s when God began showing me that I needed to be baptized. As a child, I resisted, and even as an adult, I never wanted to be on display. Then, one Wednesday night at Renewal, God prompted me tell someone. During the welcome at the beginning, Jeff Holland came up and introduced himself. Talk about God's perfect timing. I didn’t know who to tell that I wanted to be baptized, so I told him. Right then and there, Jeff signed me up for Identify — and I was baptized soon after.
The heart attack came less than two weeks after Identify. That’s truly the moment I realized how much God had changed my perspective. As the nurses rushed around the ER to take care of me, I told them and my son that it would be okay because God was there with us. His presence gave me courage. Since that night at Renewal — spending time in prayer with Jeff, being baptized and seeing God answer prayers — I have never felt closer to God.
As the nurses rushed around the ER to take care of me, I told them and my son that it would be okay because God was there with us.
God isn’t distant or uncaring like I used to believe. I can talk to Him all the time and pray about anything. He’s with me, and He watches over me. I know there is nothing that can happen to me that He is not going to take care of. Even in the middle of a lions’ den or the flames of the fire, He’s right there.
With all that’s happened, I knew I wanted to do something to serve the church and give back. As a greeter, I have the chance to tell everyone good morning and that I am so glad to see them. It’s my small way that I can share God’s tangible love with those who come to Pinelake.
I know the things that have happened to me have happened for a reason. God’s always close, always present. That’s why I love talking about the things God has done for me.
— John Stanley, Pinelake Reservoir