Slip Sliding Away
By Tina Mitchell
After my conversion, I waited for months before I finally went forward in church for baptism and church membership. It was not the obedience of the act that I feared. No, there were two tiny things that bothered me about getting baptized. One – when you come up out of the water the gown clings to your body. Two – I wasn’t sure that the pastor could hold me. You see, I was a little heavy.
Okay, I’ll say it. I was fat.
That said, one Sunday the pastor brought a sermon on obedience and I fell under great conviction. Throwing off my worries, I went forward during the invitational and scheduled to follow the Lord in baptism the next Sunday.
I chose a very thick dress to place under my baptismal gown to ensure that no one saw more than they should when I came out of the water. That took care of my first worry, but the other part was still gnawing at me.
As arranged, this chubby eleven-year-old went into the women’s dressing room with her Mother after the morning service to prepare for baptism. There was another young man being baptized before me, and the pastor had no problem easing the first believer into the water – which was reassuring. Then he called my name, and I stepped through the doorway and down into the waters to meet the pastor. He took my hand and said, "Sister Tina, by faith have you accepted Christ as your personal Savior?"
"Yes, I have," I replied.
"Upon your profession of faith and in obedience to His command, I baptize thee in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
He put his left hand on my back and a handkerchief over my mouth and nose with his right hand. As he led me backwards into the baptistery waters, I heard, "Buried in the likeness of His death." Then I was under water and his voice was gone.
Suddenly, my left foot slipped. I panicked and pulled the pastor down into the water with me. There was an incredible splash and I fought him because I could not swim. With one deliberate jerk he had me on my feet and proclaimed, "Raised in the likeness of His Resurrection!"
My worst fear then became the most embarrassing moment of my life. The pastor had never lost a person in the baptistery before, but that all changed that day, as I became his first baptismal rescue.
Eventually, I grew up and got over the embarrassment. I learned to laugh when I became the church joke for the next few weeks. "Yeah, Tina here was lost, got saved, got lost, and had to get saved again!"
I went on a diet after that day and lost 80 pounds, but I know that I am not the first believer that took a step in obedience to God and then slipped in the process.
Joseph Stowell wrote in his book, Far From Home, "In the busyness of service, we lose Him." Many believers experience this. We are so busy serving God and others that we forget about our own spiritual needs.
Spiritual starvation hinders us and allows things to creep into our Christian walk that have no place there. In full time service, it’s easy to find yourself at church more than home and in so doing, church loses its sanctity. Many things can become commonplace to us that should not be if we are true followers of Christ. We may let down our guard and allow gossip to creep in, and then judgmental feelings towards other believers develop as we begin to focus on ourselves instead of Him and our calling.
The phrase, "to fall out of fellowship," fails us, as one never really falls, but rather slips an inch at a time so that we cannot see our own drifting. By the time we realize what has happened, we have traveled a great distance.
There is a time to serve and a time to worship. In the feeding of the flock and the serving of the saints, we must not forget our own sustenance…lest we slip ourselves. Hebrews 2:1 (KJV) tells us, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip."
The work of the Lord must be carefully mixed with our own spiritual nourishment. Christ ate with His disciples. We must take time to set by Him and fill ourselves with the bounty of His table.
Have you noticed that it’s often the same women who preside over the nursery on Sunday mornings? The same people are cleaning the church, visiting, volunteering for socials, presiding over children’s church every week? Perhaps that’s you. If it is, then you need spiritual food too and should be relieved every so often that you may come to the table.
There are times in ministry when there may not be anyone else to relieve you. Pastors face this great dilemma often. That is when you really have to snuggle up to God, drink from the living water of His Word daily, and spend time talking to Him. In your time of communion with the Father, ask Him to send someone to serve along with you, so that you may have more time to worship Him. Set aside special quiet times. Be ever mindful of God’s attributes and never fail to show Christ’s love in all that you do.
God wants your service but He also covets your worship. In obedience to Him, be cognizant of the balance necessary between service and worship to maintain spiritual health. Let us become prayer warriors and beseech the Father for laborers to work in His field that all may be filled. In doing so, He will not let you slip.
"Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. (Psalm 17:5 KJV)
Tina Mitchell is a freelance writer, business consultant, and member of the FaithWriter’s 500. She is currently working on a collection of short stories and a Bible study. A writer from the age of ten, her sincere desire is to glorify God and edify the body of Christ through the written word. She resides in southeast Wisconsin.
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