A few weeks ago we got an email from our sister, Flávia. The email was addressed to our teammate Matt but she also sent it to us and about four other people.
The subject of her email was "starting again." In this e-mail, she confessed that when she was baptized years ago, she didn't really completely turn her life over to God. She followed her own will and didn't let God work 100% in her life. After discovering that this kind of partial commitment brought her pain, sadness and uncertainty, she wanted to begin again with God. She wanted to be re-baptized to symbolize the complete surrender of her life to God and allow Him to use her according to His will, and not her own. She asked Matt if he would re-baptize her.
Matt began talking and studying with Flávia, and during their studies she decided that she did not need to be re-baptized, but to make a recommitment to God. She described it using an analogy of a house. When she gave her life to God, his Spirit entered her heart. But instead of totally taking advantage of his Spirit, she kind of put him over in the "corner of her house". She visited that corner when she needed to sometimes, but didn't include the Spirit in her day to day decisions, devotions, and plans. She wanted God in her life, but on her terms - she didn't completely allow him to "take over her house". Now she wanted a new start.
Sunday, after her son was baptized, she shared her recommitment with her church family. Matt talked about the analogy of the house and Flávia's desire to start anew.
Flávia confirmed her rededication and then we all gathered around her for a prayer.
Matt then prayed for Flávia as we all laid hands on her.
Then spontaneously, Flávia began to pray.
She asked for forgiveness from God for the way that she had treated his Spirit and tried to do everything on her own. She admitted that she had made mistakes. She told God that she wanted to, from this day forward, turn her whole life over to Him and allow Him to use her in whatever way He saw fit. She asked for help and guidance in being a good mother to her two sons. She admitted that she had made mistakes as a mom, but with tears in her voice, she said that she knew that she was forgiven. That when Rafael told her that he wanted to be baptized, it was as if God was saying, "I forgive you, my daughter." She thanked God and told him that she loved Him.
It was the most beautiful and heartfelt prayer that I (Benay) can ever remember hearing. It was from a heart that has been forgiven. It was a declaration of recommitment and love.
What Flávia confessed to - her not allowing God to totally take control - is something that I know that I struggle with a lot. I think all of us do.
I admire her so much for her beautiful desire to start again. She encouraged and uplifted all of us Sunday.
Flávia is a very attractive person - not just in her physical appearance, but in her ever-present smile, her fun-loving, encouraging personality, and her desire to always be positive. She naturally draws people to herself and already has had an influence on so many people.
I can't wait to see what God has planned for the next part of her life. I sincerely hope that I am allowed to be a part of it.