I've been thinking about that Starfish story post that I wrote a few days ago. About how I said that there were probably a dozen truths that God gave me early on in my Christian life, and how those truths have molded me into the woman that I am today.
I've been thinking about how true that is. Except the truth is that there are many dozen. Maybe hundreds. I've been thinking about how important it is as a young Christian to be sitting at the feet of older Christians who aren't afraid to love on you. Sweet Christians who are willing to feed you, and feed you well. Feed you from the principles and truths of God's Word.
I remember being a young Christian in my home church. I was only sixteen when I first came. A girl that my younger sister, Laura, went to school with had invited her to a teen activity. They were building the world's-largest-sub. That is 'sub' as in huge sandwich, not 'sub' as in underwater vessel. :) After the devotion at the teen activity, my sister trusted Christ. She followed the Lord in believer's baptism on Sunday, and I was there with her. Someone talked to me about the Lord that morning, finding out that I had gotten saved a few years earlier, and I think it was the next Sunday that I was baptized as well.
Biblical baptism is more than just an act of obedience. It's more than following the Lord's instruction and example, giving an outward picture to an inward conversion. It also makes you a member of the church body into which you are baptized. For me, that was Calvary Baptist Church. The Lord's leadings are always perfect, and God had placed me in an incredible church where I would grow. There were sweet people there who loved on me immediately. Some of the dearest friends I have on this earth are people that I met and grew with and served with there. They encouraged me and taught me, and took time to pray with me. And they didn't just teach me about the love of God. They showed me.
The Lord taught me to love my pastor and to love the Word of God. The preaching was hard and brought conviction every service, breaking my heart. I was young and my heart was tender to the things of God. Pastor Ferrell told me that I was an encouragement to him as he preached because I was so engaged. I remember wondering what he meant, because I certainly did not know how to be an encouragement to my pastor back then. All I knew was that I was hungry for every word that he said when he was behind that pulpit. For everything that God had for me from His Word. My faith was built there. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) That works for growth as well as salvation. How thankful I am now. I wonder where I would be in life had God not drawn me to that wonderful place. How my life was changed!
I write these things today not to tell young Christians how important it is to be in a good church where the preaching is the Word of God, pure and undefiled. (Although it is.) I write to remind myself and others like me how important it is to be to young Christians what we need to be. It was my pastor and those wonderful people who showed me and taught me and trained me. God's way is still the same. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8 Paul says to the people in that church: "So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us."
It all gets back to love. Loving others. God's love. To be affectionately desirous of someone. The lost. Or a new Christian. To love them. To want to give of my own soul to them. My very heart. Because they are so very dear to me. God help me to love as I was loved. To show others Your love. To make a difference, as others made in me.
By the way, you never know what God might do with that person who you are loving on, showing them the Lord in you. My sister and I both gave our lives to serve the Lord at a young age. Two girls from a broken home. Bus kids, if you will. There was no bus, so people came by and picked us up in their cars. People who cared. Laura also married a preacher. They pastor a church in Las Vegas. What an amazing God we serve!
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