I was born into the Seventh-day Adventist religion. I’ve been going to church my whole life. In some ways I had it easier than people who don’t have that opportunity. In other ways it’s not so easy. Yes I did have some form of a connection to God all through the years. But it was never a strong, personal relationship with Him. I always felt like I was missing something important. As I became a teenager I became more and more skeptical about my religion. I was still trying to hold to my faith but it was becoming harder and harder. It became more like a chore and I didn’t feel God at all.
Then the final point of my turning from Him occurred. I was shattered by someone very close to me. In the aftermath, I needed somewhere to lay the blame for all of my pain. So I blamed God. I couldn’t believe He had allowed that to happen to me. I felt like God had betrayed me. So I turned away from Him. I wanted nothing to do with Him. Whenever anyone would talk about God, or religion I would close my heart. I refused to listen to anyone who wanted to help. And consequently my life took a destructive turn. I did a lot of things that I am not proud of. In turning from God I gave myself completely over to the world and unknowingly Satan’s influence. Even after the mistakes were made, they still haunted me. All of it took a huge toll on me. Most of my battles were internal though, so there was no one to help me through them. Over time it just built up. I started to feel more and more unsatisfied with my life. I felt like I needed meaning in my life.
When I went to Bible Conference in September, 2008, I’ll admit that my original intentions had been purely social. I knew that none of the spiritual things would touch my cold heart. Most of the week went exactly like that; until Friday night. The message that Pastor Ben gave to us, melted a small part of my heart. I can’t explain what it was. When he had an alter call, I felt compelled to go. Something very small was at work inside me. Later that evening our school got together for a vespers. As soon as I walked into the room, I could feel the energy in it. Though I did not know it at the time, the Holy Spirit was in that room with us. The things that happened that night were amazing. I saw people open up about their struggles with God, family, friends. I saw people crying who never cry. I’m a naturally emotional person, so I started crying too. It started because others were crying, but somewhere in the course of my tears I broke. So many things were overwhelming me. So many mistakes. So much past that wouldn’t go away. Too many emotions, too much drama. And nowhere to put it all. I was holding on to all of it so tight. I knew that I needed to let it all go.
At my breaking point I heard God whispering to me. He told me that I couldn’t handle this by myself. He said that if only I would let go He could carry my burdens. He asked me to give it all to Him. In that moment I knew He was right. So my crying turned into my way of letting it all go. There were a lot of tears to shed. I found I couldn’t stop until I had cried for every mistake, every bad choice, and every regret. When I finally did stop, He spoke to me again: whispering “It’s been too long my daughter, welcome home.” And then I was crying for different reasons. I was crying for joy. I had never in my life felt such a release from the world. Everything was going to be okay. I was forgiven for my past mistakes. That right then and there was true re-birth. That was my true baptism, a baptism by tears. I walked out of that room and left my old self inside. I knew that as long as I had God, I would never fall so far from his path again.
Today I am declaring to everyone that I am God’s child, and not the World’s. That I will live for Him, and I will go where He leads me. My strongest desire, and where I believe God is trying to use me as an example, is to help those who are struggling like I did. To tell them that they are not alone, that no matter what, God is there; and that He will catch us when we fall. He will bring us back to Him; and He’ll say “Welcome Home.”
Rachele McClain was baptized Sabbath, December 27, 2008 and joined the Meadow Glade Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Vancouver, WA area
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