BY TONY THORSEN, FISHERS ATTENDER
Finding Grace Church
Stephanie and I were introduced to Grace back in April of 2014. Nate Hines, a buddy and co-worker of mine, attends Grace at 146th Street and introduced us.
I had shared with him that we weren't thrilled with the Catholic church we were attending at the time, and quite honestly, weren't really feeling Catholicism anymore, either. We would attend the earliest mass on Sunday mornings, which was nicknamed the "Drive-Through" mass because there was no singing, and we could be in and out in about 30 minutes flat. Essentially, we were just checking a box on our weekly to do list, so that we could say we were "good Christians" by attending church.
We finally got to a point where we realized how ridiculous it was, and figured that us attending just so we could say we went wasn't really any better than just not attending at all. So, after sharing that with Nate, he took it upon himself to invite us to a Saturday night service at Grace with he and his wife.
We were awestruck. Honestly, I have no idea what the message was that evening. I just remember thinking things like, "Wow! They sure do sing a lot! Do they ever sit down here?" "Are those cameras?" "Man! Look at those big screens!" "Wait. You can drink coffee in service?" So yeah, to say it was a 180 from what we were used to would be an understatement.
Since we were still living close to Greenwood at the time, it wasn't super convenient to drive up every weekend, so that was our only trip to Grace for a while. But, later that year, we moved to Fishers and were looking for a new church home. Nate told me that Grace had a Fishers campus, so we started attending just before Christmas in 2014 and have been going ever since. We absolutely love Grace, feel more alive in Christ than we ever have, and have met some really awesome people.
My Baptism Story
I actually tossed the idea around for nearly a year before getting baptized. My parents had me baptized as baby. And as I considered being baptized again at Grace, one side of me kept saying, "You've already been baptized. No need to do it again.", but the other side of me kept saying, "Yeah, but it wasn't a personal choice."
It doesn't take a full year to sort that argument out. A lot of the delay was that I really just wasn't sure with where I was in my walk with Christ. Even though I felt more in tune with Christ, I was still wrestling with God and my faith, which was mainly due to a lot of life experiences and unanswered questions.
Anxiety, depression, anger, stress, you name it, have plagued me most of my days. Aside from OCD, I have had a number of other health issues that have peppered my life, as well - some that are still with me to this day - and I have reached out to God more times than I can count for help, but never received the healing and relief for which I prayed.
So, I found myself wondering, like most people do, "God, if you love me so much and want the best for my life, why do I continue to struggle? Where's the relief? I give, I serve, I pray, I attend church, I read my Bible...what more do I need to do?" After feeling like my prayers remained unanswered, I changed my prayers from, "God - Please help!" to "God - I'm done. I don't have the strength and desire to keep living, nor do I have the guts to take my own life, so please, just do me a favor and take me out of this world. That way, I can still be with you when I die." Obviously, God did not answer that prayer either, and today, I'm certainly glad he didn't.
Somehow, I have managed to turn my life around over the last year. And honestly, it wasn't some extraordinary feat of human strength on my part to keep going, so I really can't take credit. I firmly believe it was a combination of giving up alcohol completely, the continued love and support from my family and friends, getting involved with Men of Grace, going through Fight Club, volunteering at Wheeler Mission, and getting involved in the Way of Discipleship with the Lotter family. I think those things, coupled with figuring out how to let go and lay everything at the feet of Jesus, really helped me turn things around. I think I'm finally starting to fully understand my favorite verse, which is Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." Prior to this year, I think I had that verse mixed up with Tony 4:13, which states, "I can do all things by myself."
I guess what ultimately led to me being baptized is that I was ready to start anew. I wanted to wash away the old, and I basically said to God, "All right. My bad. Let's try this again." Yes, I still struggle with my emotional health, but not to the point where I want to just end it all anymore. Now, I have hope, I have faith and I have the desire to keep going. I realize there are people who not only depend on me, but are rooting for me, as well. I also know that God is in my corner not only fighting with me, but fighting for me.