I never intended to lie.
1. I know better, which may be the force behind…
2: I’m terrible at it. Always have been.
So one Sunday morning during my fourth-grade year, I sat in church doodling on my bulletin instead of listening to the sermon. I can’t tell you what that sermon was about–as I say, I was doodling. But I’m guessing it must have included a clear presentation of the Gospel, which says, in a nutshell:
1. Everyone sins against God and thus deserves death.
2. Jesus, who came as God incarnate, never sinned. He willingly sacrificed his own life as the final payment for the sins of the world.
3. Jesus’ sacrifice made forgiveness and eternal life available to anyone who will acknowledge their sin and trust Him.
At the end of the sermon, when the pastor invited people to come pray and receive eternal life, I found myself crying a little. My sweet, grandmotherly Sunday School teacher noticed and came over to me.
“Do you want to go forward?” she whispered. (“Going forward” is church code for acknowledging in front of the church that you have received Jesus’ forgiveness. So named because it involves, you know, walking to the front of the auditorium.)
My beloved Sunday School teacher had just invited me to go with her, so of course I hopped up and followed her to where the pastor stood. Everyone was crying. They all seemed so happy for me. This puzzled me to no end, but I assumed they all knew what they were talking about, so I played along.
Oh, I’ve become a Christian! Cool!
Yep, got baptized by immersion, as I’d seen many others do. Only… when I came up out of the water, I got this sick feeling that something was wrong. As if I’d broken something important.
What’s this? How can you mess up getting baptized? I mean, no skill is required.
Bewildered and discouraged, I threw myself into reading the Bible. That’s what Christians do, right?
Church attendance. Bible reading. Saying all the right things. Nothing eased that guilty feeling that I was not heading toward heaven.
Did I admit my fears to anyone? No, I played along even harder.
Doubts? Who, me? After all, I’ve been baptized, people!
. . .
Next time: The rest of the Fake-Out Years story.
Thanks for reading,