A couple of weeks ago, baptisms returned to every Willow campus. Dozens came forward and publicly declared their faith in Jesus. Something powerful happens in our hearts when we see the realization of what God wanted for His people when they obey Him in baptism. The smiles of those baptized and ours as we watch are almost mirrors of each other. We get to see victory in so many stories as those who accepted Christ rise out of the water.
We all have a story--something we overcame, grew into, or obeyed. When we see those who chose to get baptized, we don’t get to see much beyond the expression on their faces; however, each has an incredible story to share, a story of redemption and amazing grace. This is Tim’s story:
Tim is 25 and works in construction now, but he was just a boy when his parents separated. He felt hurt by his dad for leaving, a hurt which would eventually turn into resentment. But as he grew up, he tried to live strong despite his dad leaving but knew deep down it was just a façade.
In his later teen years, Tim felt lost. He kept waiting on God to turn him into the man he wanted to be but didn’t feel he was making any progress. He grew impatient with God and got into stuff he knew he shouldn’t have. At the same time, he battled depression; he knew something needed to change before it was too late.
Through a chance interaction at a job fair, Tim was invited to a church service. During the service, a video was played, and in the video a boy stole a ball from his school. Initially, the boy felt proud for what he had done, but his pride quickly turned to shame. When the boy got home, he acted quiet and kept to himself. The boy’s father realized his son was acting strange, so he went up to the boy’s bedroom and sat on the bed with him. The father looked at his guilt-ridden son and said, “No matter what you’ve done, I forgive you.”
At that moment, Tim realized not only did he need forgiveness, but he needed to forgive his dad as well.
After the service, seeing the emotion on his face, someone came up to Tim and asked if he needed a hug. His response was, “I’ve waited all my life for someone to ask me if I needed a hug.”
Shortly after, Tim called his dad and asked if he’d meet him at his townhouse. At this point, they hadn’t spoken in over seventeen years.
His dad showed up and they met each other with open arms, sobbing. For Tim, he said, “I was ready for a new season in life.”
As they talked and got to know each other for the first time, it turned out Tim’s dad attended Willow Huntley. Their relationship began to grow as they attended church services together; they would even grab lunch after services every Sunday.
During this past Easter service, Tim saw a promo for baptism; in his heart, he knew it was something he had to do.
While signing up for baptism, Tim was asked who he wanted to baptize him. He reached out to his dad and asked him. His dad was completely speechless. Tim told him, “I’m ready for a new beginning.”
At Tim’s baptism, his dad was in the water with him, both with tears of joy in their eyes.
Tim said, “The past is the past and I was ready to leave it behind. God showed me no relationship is ever too far gone; nothing is ever too late for Him, and His timing is divine.”
Growing up, Tim wanted nothing to do with his dad, but God restored Tim’s brokenness in his soul and heart. Tim and his dad now volunteer together on the traffic team at Huntley, and Tim describes his dad as his best friend.
We don’t know everyone’s story at Willow that walks through our doors, but we do know for certain God is not done doing amazing things. He is healer and restorer, and there isn’t one story He can’t turn around and use for His glory. No matter your circumstance or situation, take heart; like Tim said: nothing is ever too late for God.