Here's what's been going on at Elevation. After the video, read below for my experience with FOLLOW.
I've been thinking about sharing my story for some time, and I know for sure now that its time. For a long time I would have said that my walk with Christ began as a child, but now I know that this is not true. I was taken to church as a child, and around age 7 or 8 I got baptized. It was clear that this was what my parents wanted, so I complied. (Bless them for caring about my soul.)
Through out middle and high school I was incredibly involved in church. I was constantly bombarded with lists, rules, regulations, commandments that I had to keep. I was an expert at putting on the Christian act. I kept these rules because my friends did, but I now know that my heart was never in it. I attended a Christian college where I pursued a degree and met people who I most definitely did not expect to find in that environment. Before I knew it, the girl who grew up as an expert at keeping the rules was drinking, partying, in a relationship that did't honor God, and pretty much anything else you could think of. I graduated, got a job, and only found more time and means to live a sinful life. Looking back, it seems like I blinked and my life was out of control. I wasn't an addict, I wasn't pregnant, I wasn't in jail, but I wasn't a Christian either. I was SCARED.
None of the things I were doing made me happy. I knew that I had to figure out this God thing for myself. I realized that I've believed in Jesus for most of my life, but I've never really followed him. There is a big difference I've come to see. I'd been To Elevation a few times, but in early 2011 I decided to commit to regular attendance. The first Sunday I attended Pastor Steven began a series called "Get Back" all about how to recover your spiritual life coupled with a Beatles theme. As the most avid Beatles fan you'd ever find in a 25 year old, I felt like God was saying 'not only do I know what you need to hear, I know EVERYTHING about you.' I knew it was God's way of telling me that this was the beginning of the right journey for me. Over the last several months I've struggled a LOT. I joined an eGroup. I got involved, but I was still wrestling with what it meant to follow Jesus instead of just believing in him. I was still struggling with leaving my old ways in the past. I've been praying for a long time about my next step in following Jesus.
Last Saturday night I attended Blakeney alone. I was sitting close to the front and crying my eyes out as Pastor Steven spoke about following. I knew that the 'dying daily' and the 'carrying my cross' were what I had been missing. At one point he looked directly at my section of the crowd and said "I must follow Jesus for myself." As he continued to speak, those words played over and over in my mind. I couldn't WAIT for him to count to three and send people outside to be baptized. I knew that this was the next step of faith that I had been looking for. I knew I was ready to FOLLOW. I cried as I changed clothes. I cried as I waited in line at the baptismal tank. I'm crying as I think about it now. I've felt anxious for months and months now, but when Pastor Chunks lifted me out of the water I felt at peace like I have never felt before. I know that following instead of believing won't be easy, but I know that it will be worth the sacrifice.
I start grad school classes at Winthrop in a few weeks... right about the time Elevation Rock Hill opens. I can feel God leading me (for the first time in forever) to reach my campus for him. I'm SO excited about the next steps of following Jesus, and I'm proud to say that Elevation was a huge part of my changed life.