The Story So Far – Chapter 11 – The Greatest Day

CHAPTER 11 – THE GREATEST DAY

The next morning though it was time to go back to Church, it was Baptism Sunday, I was looking forward to it, not that I was getting baptised, but because I had never been to one and I wanted to see what it was all about.  At that point I still didn’t really understand much about being baptised, I had been informed that this was coming up, but as I still didn’t feel I was ready, coupled with the fact I was busy with karate things, not only the National Championships the day before, but the Sunday afterwards was our club grading, as I was busy preparing for that too, I decided to wait until next time, to watch this time and then when I had more time, I would find out more about what it means and make a decision about it later.

But just as the day before hadn’t really gone to plan, then neither did this day.  I got ready for Church and as I walked towards the back door I glanced at the sky outside, it didn’t look all that good, it distinctly looked like it could rain.  The walk to Church from my house was just over twenty minutes, it’s a nice walk, it has to be, seeing as I don’t drive, but there was a good chance I would get wet.  I didn’t fancy taking a coat because it looked quite warm too, so I checked the weather forecast and it said there was a definite chance of rain.  I stopped for a second, checked out the window one more time and then suddenly I thought…

I sharn’t bother with a coat, I’m not bothered if I get wet today.

I thought that it was quite a strange choice to make, but I went with it, I walked to Church and it didn’t rain after all.

Something felt different that day, by the time I walked into Church, I was definitely feeling the spring in my step, I felt good, I felt encouraged and expectant.

After three months in Church I was now enjoying the worship, I had been singing along with all the songs and beginning to get more comfortable with it, a far cry from the those early weeks when I stood watching everyone else, wondering not so much why they were doing what they were doing, but why I wasn’t doing it too, would I even let go enough to worship like everyone else was.  Maybe I still wasn’t moving around as much as some of the others, but I was certainly getting into it more than ever.

After worship Gareth took to the stage to welcome everyone and that’s when something happened, something that really changed everything.

He started by stating that he had never done this before, but really felt the Lord saying that someone in this place was going to make the decision to get baptised today.  They don’t normally give people the option to make that spur of the moment decision, but today he felt he had to, he added that they hadn’t prepared for it, but stated if someone wished to make that choice, they would find spare clothes and extra towels from somewhere, he didn’t know where, but they would sort it out.

It was at that point that I just sat in my seat, frozen!  It was like time stood still, only I was there in that room now, but everything inside my chest had frozen, my heart, my lungs were just frozen, for a moment I couldn’t breathe.

I sat there still frozen and suddenly my mind sprung into action, it was telling me that He was talking to me, not Gareth, he may have said the words, but He was talking to me now, God was telling me I was ready, maybe I didn’t think I was, but God thought I was.

Gareth finished his welcome and the service moved into connect time where people meet and greet each other.  But I sat for a moment in my seat as everyone moved around me, inside was this internal struggle, are you doing this or not?  I was running through all this in my head, I knew He meant me, but I’m not usually that impulsive, I plan things like this that take me out of my comfort zone, I didn’t have a clue what this entailed, I understood what a baptism was, but didn’t really understand what it meant to me and if I was ready for this step yet.  But I was repeatedly being told to make that decision, it was my time.

So I suddenly stood up and scanned the room for where Gareth was, I spotted him and walked over to where he was.  I ignored everyone I walked past, if I stopped to speak with them I may miss this moment, if I didn’t do this now, I probably would sit back down in my seat and stay there and miss the chance.

I walked up to Gareth, he was talking to someone, I put my hand on his shoulder, he turned to look at me and I simply said…  “Okay where do I get the spare clothes from?”  He instantly realised what I was saying, a warm smile came across his face.  We spoke for a moment, he said he would sort things out and I was just to join in at the end of the service when the baptism took place.  I went and sat back down, grinning to myself, I still couldn’t actually believe what I had just agreed to, I’m not impulsive, I don’t like going outside my comfort zone, I didn’t know what was going on and I was fighting the apprehension and excitement.

When the service resumed Gareth took to the stage and introduced the three people who had actually decided to be baptised, who had actually prepared for it and were ready, he called all three to the stage to share their testimony.  He didn’t mention me, when I spoke to him later he said he was just going to introduce me at the actual baptism part later, but I wasn’t sure what to do, should I go up there, he hadn’t said my name, he hadn’t mentioned me, I guess they were still sorting things out for me, but I sat there wondering if I should join them on the stage or not, was I supposed to or not, obviously I wasn’t expected to.

So in another act of complete impulsiveness I jogged up to the stage, obviously taking Gareth by surprise and joined the other three people.  I stood there as one by one they were handed the microphone and they nervously told their story.  They had all prepared what they were to say, two of them had pieces of paper with notes on, but with their heads down they stuttered over their words, while I stood there waiting.

For some reason I couldn’t wait to get my hand on that microphone, I wanted to talk.  Normally you would never get me on a stage, let alone put a microphone in my hand and expect me to talk, no way, that’s just not me, it’s not in my nature, it’s not who I am, but for some reason I was really eager, what was happening here was something else, it just wasn’t me and to this day I still can’t believe I actually did all of this.

When the other’s had finished, Gareth introduced me and I took the microphone and told my story.  It was the first time I had spoken about it all in this way, normally it had been a discussion with one of two other people, an intimate conversation, a conversation where I could see the face of those I was talking to and gauge their reaction to what I was telling them, but now I was looking out over a couple of hundred faces, many I didn’t know and they didn’t know me, but I was going to tell them all about how I had failed, all my sins, my addiction, if they didn’t know about it by now, they were soon going to.

I found myself getting more passionate the more I spoke, I’m not sure how long I actually spoke for, all I know that it is was probably more than any of the others.  Afterwards I felt a little sorry for the other three, it was their day, they had planned it, but I gate crashed the party and took all the attention, I didn’t mean any of it that way, not at all, I hadn’t planned any of this, I wasn’t really in control here, I wasn’t acting anything like I normally would.

After that I took my seat and listened to the rest of the service, waiting with that feeling of apprehension and excitement.   All I had come with was what I was wearing, a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, I had nothing else with me.  A friend who sat near me insisted that he go and fetch me some clothes, I said I would be fine as I was, but he wouldn’t hear no and set off to fetch me some things.

After the service there were a couple more worship songs, one of them we had sang a number of times over the few months I had been in Church, as I sang along though it made me cry, not in a bad way, not in a pain or hurt kind of way, but in a way where you suddenly realise how God has just touched your life, when we sang the words to the Lincoln Brewster song I Belong To You, particularly the lines….

“You caught my soul
When I was struggling to breathe”

I suddenly realised how he had placed has hand on my life this morning, I thought back to earlier in the morning when I froze and for those few moments I couldn’t breathe, how at that point I knew in my heart that He was speaking to me, He wanted me.  It didn’t matter whether I felt ready for the next step, what mattered was the He was telling me I was ready and He was letting me know.

By the time the actual Baptisms started, I still didn’t have anything to change into afterwards, by now the nerves had taken over the excitement, but I was still looking forward to it.  I didn’t really know what I was to expect, I had never actually spoken to anyone about being baptised, I hadn’t heard anybody else’s experiences, how they felt in the pool or how it changed their lives, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know what was going to happen or how I was supposed to feel when I came out of the water.

I have to say I didn’t climb down the steps into the pool gracefully like the others, I jumped in, got into position and then let it all happen.  The rush, the excitement was amazing, when I came out I was buzzing, I’m still not sure how I was supposed to feel, but I was on top of the world at that point.

When I walked away from the pool, I was handed a towel and then from somewhere a bag of clothes, they weren’t from my friend who had gone to fetch some things, he still hadn’t got back yet, but Gareth made good on his promise, from somewhere the Church had provided.

The only problem was, although there were clothes, obviously there was no spare underwear, I had to put the dry trousers over my wet underwear, but obviously in time the water soaked through the trousers and it looked like I had wet myself, but who cares about that, none of that mattered!

After that I met so many new people I had never spoken to before, so many people came up to me and wished me well, so many said how proud they were of my courage to stand up there and be so honest.  I couldn’t stop smiling all day, also I couldn’t stop laughing at myself, I still couldn’t believe that I had done any of what had happened that day, I still can’t.  But God works in ways we aren’t really meant to understand.

James wasn’t at the service that day, he was at our other campus in Wellingborough, later in the day I sent him a text, to let him know what had happened earlier and to say thank you for all the help he had given me, but he already knew!  I had not actually been introduced to James’s wife Gemma, but from what I understand as soon as she realised that I had made the unexpected choice to be baptised, she sent James a text in the middle of the service to let him know.  It may seem a simple thing to do, but I was blown away by it.  She knew what it would have meant to James to have been there, knowing how much support he had given me, even though we didn’t know each other, she did this for him and for me.  Later that night I sent her a message of thanks, she said she knew how much it would mean to James and how much he thought of me, that she just had to let him know.  To this day I am still blown away by that simple act of kindness.

In a way life after that day became so much easier.  The drinking was no longer a problem, I had complete control over that now, I hadn’t had an urge to drink for some time, there had been a few since that dark night when I was in a world of pain and alone, but over the next few months I really began to grow spiritually, even if I was still shrinking physically.  I was still working hard and losing weight, but in a moment of loneliness at home I found a new way to exercise and to actually spend more time with God.

I was at home alone one weekend, the kids and Victoria had gone out to a family birthday.  So I planned in the afternoon to take a walk down the old railway track near our house, which had been turned into a cycle track, it’s about four miles long and at steady pace takes about three hours to walk.  The weather was pretty good and I really enjoyed the walk.

When I got home they were all still out and would be all night, so I made some tea and sat down to watch the Olympics on TV.  But I became restless and a little lonely.  So as I had enjoyed my walk so much earlier that day, I decided I would go out again.  I grabbed my iPod and walked, I had no real goal of where I was going, no destination, I just walked around town, I just carried on walking.  I walked for a few hours then came home.  When I came home I found that I had actually had some amazing thinking time, all the problems I left the house with had vanished in the few hours I had been out, everything that was heavy on my mind, I guess the loneliness I was feeling being in the house alone had all gone, I had committed it to God and He had lifted it from my shoulders.

A few weeks later Victoria and Eve went to kids camp for the week and because I was working Ben went to stop at his Gran’s, once more I found myself alone in the house, feeling a little sorry for myself, so each night I found I would go out walking, again I didn’t know where I was going, I just did laps of the town, I walked for two to three hours, probably around eight to ten miles, it didn’t matter, I had a playlist of worship music that I was listening to and all my problems were eroded away with every step that I took.  As I say I found a new way of dealing with things, keeping fit, losing weight and more importantly spending time with God.

Eventually I ditched my normal morning exercise program that I would do before going out to work, I would get up early, get dressed and go walk for an hour or so, I upped the pace a little over the weeks and eventually I found I could walk for long periods at close to five miles an hour.  At the weekends I would walk for over thirteen and half miles in around three hours, even on a Sunday before going to Church.  One morning when I was off work I decided to see how far I could actually walk, so I did my usual thirteen and half mile lap twice, completing over twenty seven miles without stopping.  Because I knew that what I had just walked was over the marathon distance, when I got home I checked on the times people had ran the London Marathon that year, indeed over five thousand people actually “ran” that distance in a slower time than I had just walked it!

Eventually I got my weight down to ten stone, but to be fair I looked a little thin, so I settled on my average weight to be 10 stone 4lbs, I was happy at that.

I BELONG TO YOU by LINCOLN BREWSTER
You light my way everyday
You help me see what I can be
I cry to You, my Spirit song
Come use my life for You alone

You caught my soul
When I was struggling to breathe
You made me whole
And now Your majesty I see
I belong to You, yes I belong to You

I hear Your voice, it leads me on
Into Your arms where I belong
I cry to You, my Spirit song
Come use my life for You alone

You caught my soul
When I was struggling to breathe
You made me whole
And now Your majesty I see
I belong to You, yes I belong to You

I know You’re everything
You’re all I’ll ever need
I know You’re everything to me

I know You’re everything
You’re all I’ll ever need
I know You’re everything to me

I know You’re everything
You’re all I’ll ever need
I know You’re everything to me

You caught my soul
When I was struggling to breathe
You made me whole
And now Your majesty I see
I belong to You, yes I belong to You
I belong to You, yes I belong to You

2 thoughts on “The Story So Far – Chapter 11 – The Greatest Day

  1. Beverley

    I feel your excitement, felt I was in the church watching you too. You must feel so good, and you’ve loss weight your confidence must have hit the roof. This is one amazing testimony.

    Reply
    1. waynemali Post author

      Hi Beverley
      Thank you for all your amazing comments and I do hope your friend finds the courage to read it to, hopefully he will find something there that reminds him of himself and that just maybe there is a way out for him too. I note you live in the UK, where abouts? I’ve from Newark in Nottinghamshire.
      Wayne

      Reply

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