Out of the World and into a Community
by Nicci Price
There are a lot of reasons why a person would want to stay in the world. Entertainment, wealth, and independence entice some people, but not me. At a young age I knew I was different from other children. Their petty games and ideas didn't interest me. I spent my time trying to convert my friends and asking my school's principal if we could wear school uniforms. I think I longed for structure. As I grew up I lost some of that nagging desire and moved on to a normal childhood of normal interests. I loved movies and would frequently memorize every word. After school a friend and I would spend hours acting the scenes out in her front yard.
My family struggled financially, and my mom often told me I'd want friends or a community someday that would be there for me during different stages of life. I'd want to get married and have children so there would be people around me. As a young person, I yearned for community. I begged my parents to take me to church. As I got older they obliged and dropped me off and picked me up at the local church, never choosing to go in themselves. That wasn't for lack of faith or belief. It was due to preconceived notions and a feeling of not measuring up. They would drive away and I would walk into the church with only Jesus by my side.
I was a pilgrim long before I knew what that meant. In my search for community I found the German Baptist Brethren (New Conference). They were much different from some of the other communities I had researched and visited. They had a glow about them and a welcoming spirit that resonated with mine. I knew from the moment I sat on the back bench that this was my church home. I'd be lying if I said that the charm of reading one too many Amish romance books didn't affect my commitment to this kingdom community. I hoped that the "charming stuff" would draw me closer to the Lord.
I was fully immersed in the water and into the German Baptist on September 22, 2012. It was a wonderful time as I was taken in as an adopted family member. Everyone welcomed me at church. I got pretty new dresses made especially for me, a cap style covering was placed on my head, and I had the community that I had longed for.
Sadly, the new did wear off. Over a year later I was sitting in a puddle of my own tears, drowning in myself. I was not really any closer to God than the day I was baptized. My dresses that made me feel like a princess didn't make me modest in my heart. My covering didn't prevent me from using bad language or listening to ungodly music. In their pursuit to make me comfortable, my community had turned me into a sort of German Baptist celebrity.
On February 14th, 2014 I sat on the floor and cried out to God in a real honest way. "Lord, I'm sick of going through the motions of life without any real depth to my existence here in earth. Help me, Father God. I'll do anything you want me to, but please give my life meaning!" That day of desperation made me realize my real need to come out of the world and into the kingdom of God. As I dried my dripping tears, I vowed to go wherever God would lead me. I would follow Him in a literal way. I truly wanted to be His disciple.
My new commitment meant I'd have to stop being fake and would need to work on my life. First to go was unedifying music. Next would be unwholesome movies and YouTube videos. Then I'd actually have to dig deep into the Word so I could live the life I said I believed.
Don't get me wrong. When I was baptized and joined my local church I did want to follow Jesus, but I misunderstood how to do it. The modest dresses, head coverings, and church community can't be a blessing until a person is ready to take their position in the kingdom of God seriously. Until that happens the extra "stuff" is only stuff. It will be a constant annoyance and a point of frustration between you and the local body.
Now that I am an active participant in the pilgrim walk I am able to be a valuable part of my community. We as the body of Christ lean on each other in times of need. My brothers and sisters are right there beside me when I feel weak and need encouragement. I too am there for my adopted family when they need the same. Each situation is different. Sometimes it's an encouraging word or letter. Other times it's helping in a financial way. Often it’s the lifting up of prayer.
There may be many reasons that the world may seem tempting, but for me the kingdom of God is the only option that I desire.
Nicci likes to think of herself as a pilgrim and stranger as she follows Jesus into each new adventure. She is a teacher by career, therapeutic respite provider by calling, and coffee connoisseur by delight. When she isn't out adventuring she blogs at pilgrimnicci.wordpress.com.