I came to Christ at the age of 43 and was baptized in December of 2023. In Ezekiel 36:26 God says, “I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I thought that after my baptism, life would be smooth sailing – after all, I was going to have a new heart.

Immediately after my baptism, it seemed like I was messing up left, right and center and I had no clue what was going on. How could I say and do such horrible things - was I not saved? Maybe I had spent too long living without Jesus, making me incapable of salvation? I was DEVASTATED – I have no words to describe the level of my utter despair. I almost fell away, but thankfully somehow, I kept going to Church and Bible Study and eventually, with the patience, guidance and kindness of several of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I worked up the courage to face my shame and speak with my Pastor.

My Pastor helped me see that my new heart wasn’t a perfect heart - I am human after all – it was a heart that could readily recognize sin, particularly my own, and abhor it. It is also a heart that wants nothing more than to walk with Christ and to become the Christian, the “little Christ”, that He wants me to be – someone who glorifies His name in all I say and do. I want – no, I NEED – to become a reflection of Him.

I have realized that my walk with Christ is not going to look the same as anyone else’s. I spent the first 43 years of my life without knowing who Christ is and without having a relationship with Him. I had never read or studied God’s Word in any meaningful way before attending Church for the first time in April of 2022. To be the person God wants me to be, I have to do the work required to cultivate the good soil referred to in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, found in Luke 8:4-15 and Matthew 13: 1-23. The last four and half months of my life have been the most difficult to date – my “new heart” has, and continues to, open my eyes to the thorns in my soil that need weeding and has given me the desire to do the work required. Psalm 139: 23-24 says, “Search me O God and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way Everlasting!” I read this passage every day - it has become my mantra. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” I am learning to find joy in the trials, for through the trials God is turning me into the person he wants me to be and preparing me for eternal life with Him. This is my new heart’s desire for both me and for you, so if you are struggling in the way that I have been struggling, do not despair. Keep your new heart focused on Christ and God’s Word, seek the help and guidance of your brothers and sisters in Christ and keep weeding those thorns.

-Sabrina Stewart