Welcome to Holy Week, friends. For all those who would call themselves followers of Jesus Christ, this is the best time of year for us. This past weekend, we celebrated Palm Sunday, remembering Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the streets were lined with people praising Him and shouting, “Hosanna!” These same enthusiasts would be the very ones shouting “Crucify Him” only days later. And He knew what awaited Him. But He still came.
The beautiful story of redemption unfolds, and we take this week to focus in on the life, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And in the midst of all of His story, I see God at work all around me in my own story. Are you ready to hear what is quite possibly the greatest story of redemption that I’ve ever seen lived out right before my very eyes?
I attend a very large church in the suburbs of Phoenix called Central Christian Church. I love my church. It has been home for almost nine years now, and the longer I’ve been here, the more I’m amazed at what God is doing among us. A few times a year, our church does what we call an Acts 8 weekend, where we invite anyone who wants to proclaim Jesus as Lord of their life into the waters of baptism. These truly are my favorite weekends of the year because there is nothing quite like watching people, young and old, surrender their lives to Christ. We had an Acts 8 weekend this past weekend. Across our five campuses that span the Phoenix valley, we had 303 people choose to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ through baptism! 303!
If that’s not reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is. But here’s where it got real for me. I had the opportunity to meet with and pray for some of the women that came forward for baptism, and one encounter in particular has left me in awe of the greatness of our God.
On Sunday morning, I met Erin and Danielle, two women I had never seen before, but two women whose story was about to change my life. As they walked toward me, I could hardly contain my excitement to think that these two women were about to boldly proclaim to their church family that Jesus Christ is the Lord of their life. As I greeted them, Erin quickly informed me that she was going to baptize Danielle. I was thrilled to learn that Erin had already given her life to Christ, and she had come forward in support of Danielle and wanted to be a part of this life-changing decision she was about to make. As I ushered them to a quiet place to talk and to pray with them, their story quickly unfolded. I asked Danielle what had caused her to come forward today for baptism, and her response was one of brokenness blended with surrender and newfound faith in Jesus. Erin quickly chimed in and said, “Danielle is the birth mom of my two adopted boys.”
My jaw nearly hit the floor as I stared back and forth at these two women, watching them both nod their heads as if to say, “Yes, Cherie, it’s true.” Danielle’s twin boys were adopted at birth, and Erin had loved and raised them as her own through an open adoption. Danielle has been a part of the boys’ lives for the past several years while Erin has continued to pray for Danielle and tell her about Jesus. She has invited her to church, and this weekend, Danielle came. This weekend, Danielle opened her heart for the first time to the free gift of salvation that Christ gives. And before thousands today, Erin baptized Danielle into our family of faith.
And the tears flowed. I could hardly compose myself as I sat and heard their story, as I watched Erin baptize Danielle, and as they both emerged with tears streaming down their faces. That is redemption. That is God’s love and His grace. That is beauty from ashes. That is our God.
Can you even imagine what God is capable of restoring in your life if you would but surrender all to Him? Can you even imagine the beauty that could rise from the ashes of your own life if you would say “yes” to His invitation to come? Can you even imagine the healing that awaits you in His arms? Let us never forget who our God is and what He is capable of. He redeems. He repairs. He rebuilds. He restores. And I got to witness His work of redemption right before my very eyes through Erin and Danielle.