A few days ago I met with one of the pastors at our church to film my baptism interview. Whoa. My anxiety was through the roof! It didn’t go “as planned” but who cares. Oh wait, I did.
What’s it about, why am I doing this, are what I wrestled through on the car ride home. It’s not about ARI it’s about Jesus. Hello. Duh.
It’s about my heart, my commitment, my outward expression of love, for my savior. After my pep talk to myself, I was able to breath and smile. Sure it will probably be a hot mess, but who cares. Jesus doesn’t.
I share this with you today because it’s something I always want to look back at and remember.
_I’m Ariana Smith and I want to be baptized today as an outward expression of my faith in Jesus Christ and out of obedience to him. I’ve felt the Holy Spirit pushing me to do this for a while as an outward action and I’m ready to take this step and make my faith public.
I was born into a broken family situation. My father had left my mother before I was born and eventually divorced her. It left my sister and I to be raised by my mom. My mom found refuge in the church and in Jesus during those hard years. I can’t remember a time in my life without church. I grew up in it. We were always actively involved but I never fully grasped salvation and Christ’s love for me and that he wanted to have an actual deep relationship with me. I said the salvation prayer and accepted Jesus into my heart when I was four with my mom. But it wasn’t until college that I started to have a deeper understanding of Christs love and re-committed my life to Him.
When I met my husband he was living as a missionary on one of the most dangerous streets in Akron, loving some of the most marginalized people in the city. He showed me with his heart and actions what authentic Christianity was. He introduced me to South Street Ministries. Together we attended church there. I saw a whole different side of Jesus. A raw, transparent, view of the gospel and salvation was presented to me and forever changed me. I will forever be grateful to pastor Crabbs and his wife Lisa for speaking truth into my life. By what they preach and how they live.
I truly believe God measures our lives by how we love others. I’ve struggled with relationships and love because of brokenness in my relationship with my father. I have struggled to fill the gaps looking for love and validation in the wrong places, trying to always be a good person but for all the wrong reasons. I knew God but didn’t realize that what I was missing was right in front of me all these years. His unconditional love for me. His yearning for my heart. For me to love him so much that I can’t help but serve Him.
He has redeemed my story in so many ways, I have amazing examples of godliness in my mother and step dad who both love Jesus. He has brought healing in my relationship with my biological dad. I have a home and community here at Grace. I have new eyes for mission and for serving Him everyday.
To me Jesus is everything. He is my peace and my hope.
He is my miraculous healer when my son was born not breathing. As I watched my lifeless baby and screamed and prayed for God to save his life. He breathed life into his lungs.
He is unconditional and He never fails me even in my trials. I try to serve and to live for him everyday. Motherhood can be exhausting. But He is my strength through each day. I still struggle at times with seeing myself how Jesus sees me and being comfortable in his grace. But I know that no matter what I have a father who loves me unconditionally. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me more or less. Jesus is my everything and I’m so thankful to rest in Him._