On August 4, I was blessed to celebrate 20 years as a baptized member of The Church of Jesus Christ.
That’s 7,300 days that I’ve had the opportunity to serve the Lord to the best of my ability.
And in that time, I’d like to say I’ve learned a few things—and today I’ll share my thoughts on what the past 20 years have afforded me. I’m hopeful you can nod in agreement with some of my sentiments as they may have been similar for you on your saintly journey.
Lesson 1: Nobody Is Responsible for Your Relationship with God but You
God calls each of us individually. Yes, you may have been part of a group when you asked for your baptism (there were four of us who asked at Youth In Action the day I did), but you answer those two important questions on the shore and go into the water alone with the baptizing elder. And in that moment, your true walk with the Lord begins. You have taken on a new level of responsibility for your soul—and that should mean something!
Your connection with God shouldn’t fall to your parents, siblings, or others in your branch or mission. Yes, they can support you (thanks for picking me up at college to take me to General Church Conference, Mom and Dad!) but ultimately your relationship is on you. What does that look like? Perhaps it’s setting time aside each day to pray or read; maybe it’s taking a walk amongst God’s creation and thanking Him for it; or hopefully it’s worshiping with the saints whenever you have the opportunity. Whatever it is, it’s now your choice. Don’t take it lightly. When we meet the Lord one day face to face, we want Him to recognize us—not feel as though we are a stranger.
Lesson 2: The Excitement Only Goes Away If You Let It
When my dad took me into the warm Little Miami River near our branch in Cincinnati-Morrow, Ohio, I remember him telling me to look out at everyone on the shore supporting me as I began my new walk. Being baptized would be the first step in my outward commitment to the Lord—but in order to keep that commitment alive, I needed to put forth effort and make it part of my daily life. This wasn’t a one-time act that I’d do and leave behind. To ensure the excitement I felt that Sunday remained, I made it my mission to become involved.
It’s important to note that we might have different definitions of “involved”—some members have the ability to travel on a frequent basis while others don’t. Some have numerous hours to donate to the work of the Church while others can’t simply based on the season of life they are in (new parents vs. retired saints). The beauty of our church is that you can get involved in something from the comfort of your home. For example, while I was away at college shortly after being baptized, I was a member of the Student Support Committee, and later when the Gospel Blog Committee was established I knew I wanted to be a part of it (and have been ever since!). My small efforts were meant to be a blessing to someone. Regardless of what you choose, what you felt the day you surrendered your life to God won’t diminish if you keep that flame burning strong.
Lesson 3: Keep on Trusting
If I can leave you with anything today, let it be this: a lot can happen in 20 years. Whether you were baptized as a teen or later in life, you are certain to experience things you never imagined—job loss, illness, heartbreak, miscarriage, addiction, “ghosting” from a friend, disappointment. And while circumstances around us change and make it seem like we are often in the midst of a raging storm, One remains the same. Our Heavenly Father looks down on His throne on high seeking to bless us daily—and like the good father He is, wants only the best for us. It is this reason that we can put our trust—all 100 percent of it—in Him.
It’s taken time for me to learn, but at the end of the day, the people in our lives will let us down—and yet the Lord never does. He has His reasons for everything—we can put our trust in that.
August 4, 2002 was a day I’ll never forget. If you recently celebrated a milestone in the Church—be it one year or 50—please share something you learned in the comments. We have much to gain from one another’s experiences and much to celebrate when you decided to make Jesus your choice!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.