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Eunice was a Closed Book to Me

14 October 2012 by Neil

Q. 72. What is justifying faith?
A. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

There were a couple baptisms at our church recently. One candidate was a twenty-seven year old guy who had lost a leg to childhood cancer, and been converted from darkness into salvation this past Easter. The other was a kid of nine or so with spina bifida and a determination to follow the command of God to be baptized. Between them, these two have had around thirty surgical procedures. You think you know hardship? You don't. Well maybe you do, but I sure don't. Anyways, as I watched the lad in the baptismal font, I hearkened back to my own baptism. I'm at the stage of life where I'm starting to do a fair amount of hearkening back, which is starting to annoy my family.

It was November 1975. I was eleven years old.

I told my mom that I wanted to be baptized. She asked me why, and I must have provided some reasonable answers, because she took me to see the pastor. He was a kind fellow, recently from Kilkeel, not so far from Belfast, Northern Ireland. His strong lilting accent hypnotized me. He, too, asked me why I wanted to baptized, and he asked me many other questions about my faith. I had been nervous, but was pleased with how well this was going. Then, he leaned in and asked me one last question, and his demeanour and tone confirmed that it was an important one. My pastor asked me if I would promise to walk in Eunice of Life. I blinked. I half-smiled. I rapidly swallowed several times. I had no idea what he was talking about. So, I did the only thing I could, really the only thing possible. I answered him. I said “Yes.”

Mightily confused in the ensuing days, I pondered my predicament during more than one sleepless night. I knew nothing about Eunice of Life. Had I lied when I said that yes I would walk in it? No! I had not! I would most definitely walk in Eunice of Life. I would keep my promise. I merely had to figure out what it was. Fancying myself a smart little kid and wholly unwilling to seek adult assistance, I borrowed my parents' Limited Edition Old Time Gospel Hour concordance, got out my Bible, and set to work. Several hours and aborted theologies later, I gave up, thoroughly stumped. Eunice was a closed book to me. Aside from a nagging possibility that I had inadvertently promised to marry a nice Jewish girl, I had no clue what I had committed to. But I had time. I would puzzle this through, even if it took years.

The night of the baptism, the pastor publicly quizzed me with a microphone. It again went well, but then again came that awful question, and yet again I answered “Yes”, but this time feeling horrified and fake. I didn't know what Eunice of Life was! I couldn't do it! I stupidly gazed out at the congregation, only to see cherubic approving smiles. They all knew about Eunice. Why hadn't anyone ever told me?! Betrayed, I was about to bolt, but just then the pastor tipped me back and I was baptized. As I came out of the water, Eunice left me alone. All was good. I had obeyed the command of my Lord and Saviour. And although I had no ability to walk in Eunice of Life on my own, I just knew that he could and would enable me.

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