**** Hey! What I have for you here is a guest post by my husband. He asked me if he could tell the story of his spontaneous baptism and the events lead up to it at church this Sunday. Of course I said yes... Here he is, his name is Scott.
"Enjoy the chili"
First, I just want to say that I am thankful that my wife will allow me to make a guest appearance on her lovely blog. Truly, its an honor. I know that she reaches so many people with her words of love, experience, and wisdom. Hopefully, I can do the same...probably with a little less wisdom though...she is the smart one.
So where do I begin.... I have always believed in God. I just never really followed God. I always thought that I had all the time in the world to establish a relationship with Him. I didn't have a relationship with Him until I was 33. About a year ago, I committed myself to the Lord. I was in church and asked Jesus to forgive me for my sins. I want to be Saved. I didn't really know Jesus when I was a child. I didn't really ever go to church. I learned about Him in the children's bible that my parents bought for me. But what really stayed with me was this "Footprints" picture that hung in our bathroom. I am sure everyone has seen it. It was a picture of two sets of footprints in the sand and at one point in the path, one of the sets stops. The story was that a man was talking to God about his life, which is represented by the footprints. One belonging to the man and the other to God. As they are looking at the part with only one set of prints the man says, "God, this was the hardest part of my life, why would you leave me during it?" And God says," I didn't leave you my son, that is when I carried you." Very beautiful don't you think....I think so.
Well, that little poem or story (whichever it is) has stayed with me my entire life. It came back to me while I was on patrol in Marjah, Afghanistan. One of the major things that we had to worry about was pressure plate IED's. You stepped on this plate that was buried just under the surface of the ground and things went BOOM! Your very next step could have been your very last. We patrolled in a straight line. We had to. You had to make sure that you stepped in the footprints of the man in front of you cause at least you knew that the ground was safe there. This is where I learned to pray. And pray I did. I kept thinking of that thing my mom had in the bathroom. I kept asking Jesus to guide my foot steps. Jesus please make footprints for me to step in. Jesus please carry me. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Please let me make it home. Please let these Marines make it home. And we did. Jesus answered my prayers. I actually stepped on two IED's while I was on that deployment. The first one, the battery of the IED was dead. It didn't go off. The second one, I actually sat on the pressure plate. However, it was buried too deep and I obviously didn't weigh enough to set it off. What are the chances? So I came home and forgot about Jesus. I prayed out of necessity when I felt that I needed Him.
Then we moved here to good ol' San Antonio. Where everyone has trucks and guns and boots. I have a truck now so I consider myself a Texan....minus the boots or gun. Anyways, Melissa found us a church home and we started attending. But I never really got into it in the beginning. I used to be a horrible person. I mean horrible. I was a liar, a thief, adulterer, and a blasphemer. And probably more than that. Just horrible. I didn't think that Jesus had a place for me. How could He? Unless He went on break through my 20's there is no chance I am crossing that gate. But sure enough, I started to meet Him. Slowly, our relationship has grown. I am fascinated by Him. Inspired by Him. So I started to notice that people in church; even my own wife, would talk about how God spoke to them. How He told them to do certain things or how they felt His spirit. I started to get a little upset. God never spoke to me, I never feel these feelings...or at least I didn't think so. I am a pretty literal guy so if it isn't obvious and right in front of me chances are I am going to miss it. I even had conversations with Melissa about how God doesn't speak to me. What am I doing wrong? Am I not worthy to hear His voice? This went on for a while....until about 3 weeks ago.
I am at work. I am testing Air Force students on the skills portion of their National Registry so they can become certified EMT's. I am evaluating a trauma scenario when all of a sudden a voice....a feeling....a thought....It says" Enjoy the Chili". Enjoy the chili. I started to laugh because I was just as confused as you probably are right now. I hadn't talked to my wife about what was for dinner, I hadn't seen her buy any chili ingredients. Why was I feeling this? I just dismissed it as quick as it came and kept on evaluating. I didn't really think about it until I got home and opened the front door. I smelled a familiar smell. I walked to the kitchen and there was my bride stirring a beautiful big pot of chili. I told her that I knew she was making it. I had a weird feeling during skills, a voice said "Enjoy the Chili". Melissa laughed and said, God is talking to you. What a weird first conversation huh? Enjoy the Chili...He is a funny God.
So now, a week later. I am in church. I look at the announcement pamphlet. Our pastor is doing water baptisms on October 13th. I feel convicted. I have never been baptized and I know I need and want to. However, I am a little shy doing it in front of the entire congregation. I once asked Melissa if we could visit our friend in Corpis Christie and let him do it in the gulf. Something about being a new Christian and being surrounded by people who know much more than me about Jesus and the bible frightens me. But as I looked at that pamphlet I somehow knew I would be baptized that day. I just knew it. How did I combat that feeling? I didn't sign up. On Saturday, the day before the baptisms, I was at a softball tournament at Lackland Air Force Base. We won by the way....During the championship game, I was jogging out to left field when I got another feeling. All of a sudden, I couldn't wait to go to church the next morning. Here I am in the championship game and I just couldn't wait to go home, go to bed, wake up and go to church. Strange.....
So Sunday comes. The service starts out with two people being baptized. Again, conviction, I should be up there. Our pastor finishes the series on the Holy Spirit. The when have an extended worship time. He talked to us about going up to the alter and praying for the Holy Spirit to fill us. He talked about praying for God to breathe that breath of life in to us. Breathe that fire, that spark, in to us. I didn't go up to the alter. I stayed at my seat and prayed.....and prayed.....and prayed some more. Then that feeling came to me. Go get Baptized. Do it. I kept saying that I couldn't. I said," God, I cant. Number one, I don't have a towel. I didn't bring a change of clothes. I just cant do it. I promise. I swear to Go.....I mean you....that I will do it the next time it is offered." I was crying. And snotting. "God, I am wearing my good jeans. And you know I only have two pairs of good jeans left. Don't make me ruin these." Next time. And while I was praying, a vision came to me. In my head I saw Afghanistan. I was on patrol, walking, looking at the ground. Trying to step in the footprints left for me. Except now, those prints didn't look like boot prints.....they were sandal prints. And as I looked up I saw Jesus. He said, "You followed me here....why wont you follow me now".....What do you say to that?....I just cried.....Here is the Savior, telling me that I prayed for Him when I needed but now when He is asking me to do something, I refuse. I fight. I make excuses. Then the service was over. I walked out feeling ashamed because I didn't listen. Melissa and I walked down the hallway to get Lucy and I just surrendered. I stopped. Melissa looked at me. I told her I had to go back to see if Pastor Ryan would baptize me. She smiled and said Ok.
I found him in the sanctuary. I walked up to him with tears in my eyes and asked him. Of course, he didn't refuse. He went in the back and got back into his cold wet clothes from earlier. I went in and took my fleece off and emptied my pockets. He made an announcement that we had one more baptism. While he was changing he asked me if there was anything I wanted to say to the congregation. I said Yes...at least my mouth did, my brain was like NO!!!! So we went into the warm water of the pool. He had the children gather around. Everyone came up on stage to see. He said some words, I said some words...what I said...I have no clue. He prayed for me and my family. I turned and plugged my nose and down I went. From that smile on my face you would have thought that I was being lifted out of the River Jordan by John the Baptist himself. As the water ran off of me I felt like a new man. A new me. A clean me. A me that is just a little closer to Jesus. It was amazing.
So I went from someone who never heard from God to someone who has his dinner surprises ruined by God to someone who ruins his good jeans for God and I couldn't be happier about that. There is a good feeling to know that you are being obedient to God. When God speaks, you answer. I fought Him every step of the way but He never leaves my side. I have been a horrible person and yet He still loves me. He saved me and forgave me....more times than I can count.