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Steps of Obedience

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“I put an unnecessary expectation of myself to gain the approval of others as I grew up,” said Rachel Lane. “My family was active in our church and in our small Christian school, and I felt like I had to keep up a ‘good girl’ image. I wanted people to think I was the perfect daughter and sister, and I never wanted to make anyone think differently.

“My middle sister and I were really close in our relationship and did everything together. When she made the decision around eight years old to accept Christ and be baptized, I went along with it too. I didn’t understand my need for a Savior or the significance of baptism, but the approval from my parents and the celebration my family threw made me feel like I was doing the right thing.

“Later, in sixth grade, I was exposed to pornography after a friend showed me a website. This spiraled into years of addiction. I kept my sin secretly to myself because I thought I had to be perfect and have everything together. I didn’t think I could be a Christian and struggle with sin. It was something I thought I would never share with anyone.

“At church camp in high school, a senior shared his sin struggle with the camp one evening. I remember the leaders’ disappointment and my friends’ disgust toward his confession. Inwardly, I felt so alone. I thought I could never share my sin struggles with anyone because I didn’t want to receive the same reaction. The shame I felt was overwhelming. I continually tried to fix myself and be free from my addiction but never could. I was relying on my own strength.

“A year or two later, I heard a message about teenagers’ tendency to rely on the faith of others’ rather than their own. I could see that for most of my life, I relied on my sister and my parents to carry my faith. It was not my own. I didn’t have a relationship with Christ. After talking with a friend, praying, and reading the Bible more, I really came to understand that Jesus died for me and my sins. Now, it was personal relationship that didn’t rely on me being perfect but rather me trusting in the One who is perfect, Jesus.

“Still hiding my sin, I went to college and got involved in a Christian organization. There, I experienced true biblical community. I listened as leaders shared how they came to know and trust the Lord and about the sin they found freedom from. Almost every single one of the girls had sexual sin in their past, just like me. I was blown away that I wasn’t the only girl who struggled this way. It was eye opening to see leaders be so vulnerable without hesitation. I wanted that freedom.

“I shared my testimony and my sin for the first time with one of the leaders. Through my confession and her graceful response, I learned that it didn’t matter if I was the only one on the planet struggling with my specific sins, this was part of my story. And God is using it for His glory. Even though I was still actively living in that sin, my heart was being stirred for obedience.

“When I started attending The Porch, the speaker referenced Proverbs 26:11 and how like a dog to its vomit, we return to sin. I realized that was me. It would be a continual cycle if I didn’t surrender and ask God to help me with this. I would confess to people in my life after the fact, but I needed to be more proactive and take practical steps to repent from my sin.

“For years, I felt so defeated because my sin had such a hold on me. I never thought I would be able to move on from it. But finally, I had a community to fight with me. I didn’t feel alone. Life with others holding you accountable is not easy, but it is needed to find full freedom from sin.

“At this same time, I shared with my parents about how I now had a true, genuine relationship with Christ. My mom challenged me and asked me if I wanted to get baptized again. The thought seemed crazy. I had already been baptized as a child, why would I redo it? I was afraid that people would think I’d been lying my entire life about being a Christian. But she pushed back, reminding me that baptism is a step of obedience to proclaim my relationship with Jesus. It’s taking an active faith.

“Shortly after, during a Sunday message about baptism at Watermark, it was clear what my next obedient step was. My community group and family were so encouraging and supportive, and a few weeks later, we celebrated as my dad baptized me for the second time.

“Finding freedom from my sin has helped me see the Lord’s faithfulness in everything He does. While my parents raised me in a Christian household, it was important that I found my own faith and that I finally recognized my true need for an intimate, personal relationship with Christ. The first time I was baptized, I thought it was just the next thing I was supposed to do to keep my image as a perfect person. But now I understand, and I am continually excited to proclaim what Jesus did for me, an image-bearer of God.”