Yesterday at Northstar, people were being baptized in each of our services, and it’s always an amazing experience. People type up a short version of their testimony, and we read it to the congregation just before they are baptized, and we all celebrate together their decision and their life in Christ. We try to plan well and surround these moments with songs or other elements that help us to celebrate the change God makes in our lives. Each service, we followed the time of baptism with “Your Love Never Fails”, a beautiful song about God never giving up on us, and how he works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8).
In the last service of the day, a woman named Stefanie was being baptized, and while every story of redemption is captivating, this story struck a particular chord with our church yesterday.
The following is Stefanie’s story in her own words:
Before Christ I was lost. By the age of 25, I had taken many trips to the county jail; I was too busy maintaining my addictions. I had become an alcoholic and was addicted to crack cocaine. I was pregnant and had already lost a daughter to the state of Florida. I felt worthless and drugs were my escape from reality. I was sitting in the bathroom doing drugs one day; I stopped and thought to myself, what am I doing with my life? Exactly one year ago today, I said goodbye to alcohol and drugs. My mom invited me to church two days later and that very day I surrendered my life to my Savior Jesus Christ. God told me not to worry because he had been protecting my womb and my daughter would come out completely healthy. He gave my miracle baby and a second chance to raise a daughter. Then He worked on my husband. While I was in Puerto Rico my husband also gave his life to God. We got married this Nov. And it is an honor to say that me and my house serve our Lord Jesus Christ.
I read this to our congregation and then Stefanie was baptized. Our keyboard player began playing “10,000 Reasons” a wonderful song we had been closing each service with yesterday. But remember, we had been following baptism with “Your Love Never Fails”. We just went with it. No click track. Guitar players quickly changing settings. Lighting presets changing. Everything trying to quickly adjust to our keyboard player’s “mistake”. Northstar always engages in musical worship, but God was obviously doing something unique in that moment of “error”. It seemed everyone had frozen, but still singing and lifting hands together. It wasn’t until the very end of the song that our keyboard player realized she had started the wrong song. We played the entire song and went back stage as Marty began the message. Our young keyboard player felt terrible. She said, “I’m sorry I played the wrong song.” To which many of our band members said things like, “Well, just because it wasn’t what we planned doesn’t make it wrong.” Everyone was laughing and joking, but also in wonder of what God was doing or had done in our hearts during that moment. We were all believing God had just done something unique, but we just didn’t really know what.
Later, we found out that Stefanie’s husband doesn’t speak English; however, he understands and is really touched by one English worship song, “10000 Reasons”. To follow her baptism with that song meant the world to her family and especially her husband. After an incredible journey of coming to know Jesus, her baby being born healthy, and her marriage being restored, it really felt as though she had 10,000 reasons to praise God and we all just got to be a small part of a dramatic turn in her and her family’s journey with God.
God is sovereign. We have a responsibility to plan well, work hard, and execute to the best of our ability in our worship services, but we always have to leave our hearts open. I told our young keyboard player I believed God trusted her because some of us may not have listened to his prompting to re-order the song list. She thought she made a mistake when in fact she was just being obedient. It was literally one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever experienced in a worship service.