Taylor Allen’s Baptism Testimony

December 14, 2017

(Taylor was baptized on November 26. Here is his testimony:)

On August 8th I was in Ukraine and I was challenged by a pastor to write down what I believe. I accepted that challenge and spent quite a few hours on my essay. It started, “I believe in the world…” and you can imagine where it went from there.

But in the process of writing that essay, the Holy Spirit made me write something significant that stuck with me; when I was younger I always liked John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” I interpreted that to mean I should give love to people around me and I tried my best. But I think it is harder to accept love.

In my essay, I quoted Victor Hugo, “The supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved–loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” And this stuck with me in a profound way, because the love Christ offers us is an undeserved blessing. None of us deserve salvation because none of us are blameless, nor are we capable of earning salvation through our attempts to love others. But I didn’t know Christ at the time. I didn’t even want to admit that God was real.

On August 18 I wrote an email to a Christian asking how they know God. Maybe these questions sound familiar to you. “What assurance do you have that God exists? What feeling do you have, what evidence do you have for the promise of salvation? When I look out my window, I wonder to myself if this earth is all there is. Why does there have to be more? Why does life have to be anything other than the miracle of life, self-awareness, and then cellular death? Why does life have to be fulfilling, or fair, or enjoyable? What if life is just life and we make the most of it while we are alive. To me, that doesn’t sound depressing, because it is great that I am alive and self-aware and have experienced a lot of good things in my life.” As you can see, this Christian was quite patient with me.

I continued in the email, “Furthermore, in my most hateful, hard-hearted moments I listen to the beliefs of Christians and it sounds naive to me. What if the promise of salvation and life eternal was simply developed by humans as a natural fear of death, rather than as a gift from a divine creator?”

I continued, writing, “I’m still struggling with deciding if I want to be a Christian, because it feels like I am giving up part of the human condition (self agency, independence, things I value). I wish God would speak to me again or soften my heart. I don’t deserve it, but I want it. I hope you’ll pray for me.”

Then on August 21 I wrote this: “The times I’ve tried to pray over the years it has been impossible to escape my head and I can’t get through a whole prayer without asking, ‘Who am I talking to right now?’ I can’t explain why, but last night I got down on my knees in front of the couch and started to pray out loud. I just started talking and it occurred to me that He was the right person to be honest with: “God, why did you give me all these doubts? Why am I questioning everything? Why can’t I believe? Do you see how I am?”

And you know what, God moved my heart… and I wept–my heart melted in sadness. I heard the Spirit encouraging me: Yeah, Taylor, I know everything about you and I love you anyway. You know all those questions you’ve been asking? Ask ME! Pray and ask Me. And I did; I asked Him why He would care about me? Why am I worth anything? Why would You want to save me?

I said, “I DO NOT understand it, God!” I was seeing everything I had become, all the sins and pride and anger and disappointment I have felt in my life, all the things that ruined my relationships and made me take false comfort in my abilities, all the doubt and weight I had been carrying around. And I swear to you, I didn’t know about all the weight I carried until I prayed about it. I saw everything and I felt so worthless, so humbled that I wept and said again, “Why would You save me?” And all I heard was, I love you.

Because, truly Christ loves us and has always loved us even with the foreknowledge of our sin and our pride and our anger and our rebellion.

From Psalm 139:

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.

You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

And not only do I know that Christ loves us, I know that His death and resurrection are sufficient to save us, which we are unable to do. From Romans 8:1-4

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

So my ongoing prayer for myself and for everyone who knows Christ or wants to know Christ is that you become like the seed in Matthew 13 that falls on good ground. Hear this good news, this gospel, this undeserved gift of love! Let it bear fruit for you.

I am praying for fruit to spring forth from a life lived for Christ rather than one lived for myself. Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

And as I am about to be baptized today, I am grateful for the work the Spirit has already done in my heart to bring me to this point. And I am aware how much further I can grow in my knowledge and obedience of Christ.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

My prayer for all of us today:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalm 139)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you [us], who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

So I pray, Lord, that You sustain us, remind of us Your undeserved love for us, and teach us how to live for You, in worship of You and for Your glory. I ask this in Christ’s name, Amen.

 

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