Adam Wiltse and Courtney Shea.
Last night, my wife and I attended the baptism of Courtney Elizabeth Shea at the LDS Church in Cheney. She received the ordinance of baptism from our good friend Adam Wiltse (he was the one who served an LDS mission in Guatemala). It was a beautiful service.
Some time before the service started, I chose to open my heart and use this experience as a way to receive communication from God. He speaks to us every day, but we often fail to hear the message because we get distracted by disbelief, doubt, fear, anxiety, or judgment. When I choose to receive communication from God, I consciously place my distractions to one side and focus on the current lesson for my life. Then I listen for his teachings in the environment around me. Sometimes he speaks to me through a religious service, even services from other religions; or maybe a line from a song stands out above all the rest; or maybe a friend calls and says exactly the words I needed to hear, or maybe I simply catch a comment from people passing by on the street. God speaks in so many ways.
God spoke to me last night through several people during the baptism.
Sister Watkins is an LDS missionary who grew up in a devout Baptist home. She joined the LDS Church only two years ago, but even before she told her story, I guessed her religious heritage. When she spoke, her voice rang with Baptist conviction, and she frequently used phrases I remember from my childhood when I attended a variety of Evangelical churches. For example, at one point during her testimony, she said, “We are cleansed by the blood of Jesus.” She spoke the words “blood of Jesus” with special emphasis, passion, and the ring of Gospel truth. It was beautiful to hear. And sure enough, when she gave her life history, she confirmed her parents were indeed Baptist preachers.
As she spoke, Sister Watkins emphasized the love of God and quoted two scriptures from the Bible: “I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you,” (John 14:18), and “…ye have not because ye ask not,” (James 4:2).
As I received these words into my heart, I knew God was speaking to me directly. I reflected on all the times I felt comfortless in my life; all the times I felt abandoned and alone. Why did I feel that way if comfort is so readily available from the Father? The answer is simple; I did not have the comfort I craved because I did not ask for it. As a young man, and even into adulthood, I was afraid to ask for comfort and support from my friends, but whenever I did ask, they always responded with abundance. What a powerful reminder to always ask for what we need.
After the baptism, Courtney gave a testimony of her conversion to the LDS faith. Like me, she spent much of her childhood in the Assemblies of God and heard many distortions and outright lies about the Latter-day Saints. But God guided her path. She said, “God is a mighty worker in my life.” Those words reminded me of all the ways God is a Mighty Worker in my life.
Finally, our friend Madonna Wiltse gave a testimony where she said, “Remember who you are…” Yes, I remember now who I am. I remember the grace given me by a loving Heavenly Father, the Creator of all things. I do not share the LDS faith, but I felt uplifted and inspired by Courtney’s baptismal service. For one brief moment there were no boundaries of culture or religion; only brothers and sisters, children of one God, sharing the light of spirit.