In my last post I talked about how I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and was eventually baptized in Jesus’ name. This meant that I had achieved the “prerequisites” for being “saved,” but the journey had only begun.
The pattern for my life that I’ve been emphasizing is one that contains periods of learning about God with stretches of make-believe in between. In my teenage years I was enamored with the idea of love. Like many teenagers, I thought I knew more about what it meant than I really did. In reality, it was a form of make-believe that drove a lot of my teenage decisions.
When school was in session I didn’t attend church at all. As it turned out, I moved away from my Oneness Pentecostal family members and didn’t bother to find a way to attend church.
I attended church youth camps during the summertime though. Every year at these camps I would be “re-filled” with the Holy Spirit and try to live a decent life. There were even several years that I received leadership-type awards at these youth retreats. There I was at it again trying (perhaps only a little selfishly) to be recognized.
Then after school began again it was back to the same old story: hanging out with my non-Christian friends and trying to satisfy every passing infatuation. But this all changed when I was 15.
I was in a relationship at the time. It was (to my mind) the perfect love story too: I attended school with this person in elementary school and, after I had moved, they found out we lived in the same area years later. We became a couple, and next thing you know we were sneaking around using our parents’ money to do things together. Isn’t that what love does?
For all its fantasy, that relationship was short-lived. That summer, at a youth camp, I decided that if I was going to live for Jesus I was going to do it entirely or not at all. Doing my own thing outside of the summer retreats was hypocritical and—if what I knew about Jesus was true—simply a mistake. It was a big step for me to end that relationship because I knew that my supposed “soul-mate” didn’t believe in Jesus like I did.
For me, it was time to end the make-believe. It was time to really begin to live out what I had come to believe. I took on my identity as a Oneness Pentecostal.
In my next post, I’ll begin to talk about the first series of challenges to my faith I encountered.