Twice born and twice to die!
What my doctor did not know is that I have a great love for the ocean. I love everything about it and I love seafood. And no one cooks seafood better than Cajuns. I have even traveled to New Orleans, not to gamble or to participate in its pagan celebrations, but just to eat. To utterly indulge in Cajun cuisine, which is the most glorious of foods. In between New Orleans and tiny Cocodrie on the Terrebonne Bay you will pass some the last French speaking Roman Catholic Cajuns in America. And if they choose to speak to you in English, then they likely will also serve you some of the finest food on earth. So it is little wonder that I found much interest in talking to Johnny, a Cajun and Christian, preacher and counselor, “Oh this I got to see!”
But my trust in pastors and preachers was at an all time low, as one after another proved completely incapable of expounding upon the sufficiency of Scripture, or utilizing the power to be found within the Word. After 40 years of life, dozens and dozens of churches, numerous denominations and cults, I had spent only 2 years of my life under the leadership of a godly preacher, and he allowed the leaven of gossip to divide the church of my rebirth. A sheep on his own is like a lamb being led to the slaughter, but I was one ticked off sheep and I ate shepards for breakfast. Even though I felt my soul was on the verge of apostasy, I was determined never to allow another preacher to lead me astray again, after all, I was perfectly capable of doing that on my own!
When I found out that Johnny was associated with a church that went by the name of “Providence” I committed in my heart to set aside my move to Mexico and devote myself 100% to one last effort to find the God of my salvation. But I was fed up with preacher men who claimed Christ yet knew Him no better than I. Not one more church, not another preacher, not one more worthless counselor would I speak too if this Johnny fellow was not worth his words.
So on the first night that I met Johnny, my response was simple, “I will do anything to get back to God!” I my mind I thought of the absolute peace and incredible miracles that God allowed me to experience during my faithful years, the 2 years I committed every moment to Him. I thought of the hatred of who I had become and the money. Oh, how I hated mammon, to root of all evil that stole my life away from me. With one match I was willing burn the cars, houses, motorcycles, everything, even my boat to ashes to get back to my Lord and Savior. Johnny said, “Oh really, well then, why don’t you pray to Him?” I said “Pray! Pray! You must be crazy! Why would He want to hear from me after I walked away from Him?” I thought “Apparently this big guy doesn’t understand, I am an apostate, I have counted His blood a common thing, there is no sacrifice left for me! I have already tasted the miraculous power of Jesus. I have seen souls saved by His words emanating from my own mouth. I know of The Way, and have lived it whole heartedly, yet I walked away!” Johnny told me that if I could not pray, he would be gladly pray for me. I thought “Well this is nice, I wonder if any of those worthless preachers ever thought to actually try praying, I doubt most of them knew who they were praying to. I guess I would find out when I got to Hell.”
Johnny’s prayer went something like this, “Dear lord Jesus, do not let this evil sinner sleep another night until he falls to his knees and repents of his …”, I stopped him mid sentence screaming “What are you doing? You are sicking God on me! I thought you were going to pray FOR me!”
Two nights later two things were apparent, I loved this Cajun, and I was never going to sleep again if I did not repent. A year later, two years ago this month, Johnny baptized me in the Providence Pool, I was the last person he baptized before God called him away. He was the only pastor that ever yelled at me, the only pastor that spoke worse English than I do, and when he left I had a hole that would take many godly men to fill. God has since been gracious and filled me with Himself, and then He ran my cup over with godly men anyway.
The Bible says of all Christians that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10) Johnny was a preacher without a pulpit and I knew the day he left for Mt. Moriah that I had lost a counselor. But for the glory of God, I am glad my great friend and mentor is gone, as he was beforehand committed elsewhere and God in His time told Johnny the things which were appointed for him to do. (Acts 22:10)
The Bible makes it clear that we Christians are appointed certain tasks and good works, for which we were purposefully prepared before we were called into salvation, to accomplish through the spiritual gifts we receive upon adoption as sons and daughters of the first born Christ Jesus. As Baptist we believe that newborn believers should be baptized as a sign of this adoption and willful commitment to the body of Christ. It is also appointed for men to die once and after this comes the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) Yet I propose that true Christians die not only once into corruption, but also once prior and progressively thereafter in relation to their own flesh.
I looked forward to my Baptism for many months yet it was long put off for one reason or another. One Sunday I came to Johnny with more zeal than before and demanded, “Why can’t I be baptized today?” He responded that if I had a change of clothes I could. Strangely, providentially, I had a change of clothes with me for no particular reason. Being gripped with wonder and fear of God, I could not go first as one by one others went into the pool and came out soaked and freezing, but smiling and joyful. I thought, “Apparently dieing to one’s flesh and committing heart, soul and body to Christ must not hurt too much or my church mates would not be smiling.” I entered the frigid water and in my mind made the following commitment, “Dear Lord Jesus, I submit and commit to You what I have considered ours until now, and if I ever unrepentantly spit upon Your blood again for any length of time, then I beg that You kill me without mercy. Do not let me bring reproach upon Your name again. I ask this in Your name and expect this to be true, Amen.” There, it was done, my yes would be yes or I would be dead, praise the Lord. I am sure what Johnny said as he dunked me was really beautiful and meaningful, but I was more interested in total commitment to the glory of my Messiah and death to my flesh one way or the other.
As I stepped up out of that baptismal pool, I felt as though I had died, I had left some part of me behind, to be disposed of when the dirty water was discarded; it was a very strange sensation. On my knees, I bitterly wept uncontrollably, long after my pool mates had changed and left. I simply felt incapable and unworthy to stand.
To this day I crawl, evil snake that I am, unworthy of the election to which I was predestined, unworthy of adoption unto salvation, unworthy of the honor of sanctification. In my mind I am not worthy even of His condemnation.
Yet Christ created me in His image, I am His workmanship, I am sufficient in His power to minister His Word, I am able to walk uprightly in His grace, I will persevere to the end with His mercy, I will forever have the words to say when He gives them to me, I can move mountains with the power of His will, and if He is within me, who can stand against me? I am invincible through the Son who alone sustains me.
Oh, how I can’t wait to know the true, pure freedom from the bonds of this flesh. Free from fear, free from unfaithfulness, free from lust, to be free at last from the evil me. I yearn, I dream, I crave to sit at the table of the feast and drink the best wine, saved till last, with my Lord and Savior and listen to Him receive magnified glory from 10 billion Christians when He tells them how He justified such as one like me. Can you imagine the sound of that many Christian praising Jesus in one accord for the forgiveness of that much sin? The heavens will rumble and shake!
I praise Jesus now, and look forward to that day. But until the day He takes me out, I owe Him my all, not out of some obligation, but rather out of the love and honor I feel toward Him for electing me, saving me, forgiving me and once again restoring me. Can there be any finer commitment than to commit to the mighty God, the great I Am, who first committed to you?
So my eyes now look to you and I wonder who are you committed to? Has the logs of unrepentance clouded your vision? Has the weight of lethargy slowed you to a crawl? Has apathy left you prayerless? What are you hiding in the dark corners of your mind that you cannot love your enemy? Does your tongue steer you on a proper course? Has the lamp of your body viewed evil so long that your body is filled with darkness? Take heed brothers and sisters, listen, I hear the voice of my Master, our Shepard, calling us from across the field, follow me, repent and believe, repent and be restored and we shall sit at His feet and smell the fragrant spikenard of His anointing and eat and drink the new wine, the best wine, saved for last, and our liberty will not be constrained on that day, but rather we will be free, complete and full because He is there. Amen.
Brother Terry Walker
Providence Baptist Church
Greer, South Carolina