SALT STORY : Bella Deguzman
I was made new April 1st, 2018.
It was one of the wildest weekends of my entire life. On the morning of Good Friday, I walked into discipleship totally healthy and I walked out very sick. I had caught a cold in the span of about an hour. I chose my normal remedy - ginger shots from Whole Foods. I came home to sleep for a number of hours before Good Friday service, but by the time 6pm rolled around, I had gotten worse.
Saturday I woke up well enough to work for eight hours. I had insane favor at work that day, but every time I checked my phone, it was another text message from friends and family saying they were now unable to attend my baptism the following day. I was exhausted when I closed the store. I had concert plans that night, but I bailed because all I wanted was to sleep off my sickness so that the perfect baptism that I had planned out would become a reality.
I slept for fourteen hours, and I woke up with no voice. I had no idea what was going on, but everything clicked when my mom came in to check my temperature and said “Oh, there is no way you are getting baptized today.” I sobbed. I was under attack.
I had already been baptized. I was probably nine, and I did it with my brother and my Dad. Other people were very excited about my early decision, so that made me excited. At this time in my life, I believed that “Christian me” was a mold that I had to learn how to fit into, and that I wasn’t good enough without that mold. The ‘Good Girl Complex” I call it, now. God couldn’t love just Isabella, He could only love Good Girl Isabella. People couldn’t love Isabella, only Good Girl Isabella. If I was Good Girl Isabella, I would be just fine in life.
I had to take a baptism class before I could be baptized. For me, I just wanted to have all the right answers. I wanted to have answers that a Good Girl would have. I wasn’t concerned about my heart at all - just spewing words that I had overheard.
After I got baptized, I remember feeling good, because I had checked the box.
And the cute pastor baptized me.
When I decided to get baptized again with SALT churches, it wasn’t much of a decision. It was a commandment from God. I knew I was supposed to be baptized on Resurrection Sunday of that year, and not only did He tell me that, but He so clearly paved a way. He always does.
Over the next couple weeks, He taught me all about baptism and what it meant. I was beyond prepared to go under the water, and to come up not a new person that I didn’t know, but rather the person I had always dreamed of being - the person God created me to be. No hesitation, no regrets - just full confidence, and full boldness.
I texted my SALT family asking if they could pray and declare healing over me. I was overwhelmed with love, in the form of prophetic visions and words, and meds delivered right to my doorstep.
I continued to get texts from people cancelling. I continued to feel sick.
I wanted to attend the church service anyways, to watch people I have walked with for the past couple months be made new in Christ. I pulled myself together and I got ready. Fully dressed, I told my parents that I wasn’t going to go in the water. We had a family friend earlier that week almost pass from her case of the flu, and it was all over the news at the time that the flu season was the worst it’s been in decades. My parents were especially anxious about a sick girl getting in cold water - logically, it made complete sense.
I just wasn’t logical anymore. When I began to follow Jesus, and I mean really follow Him, I had to toss logic out the window, because logic limited the Creator. But, it was at this point that I realized I hadn’t totally kicked logic to the curb, because here was the dilemma at hand: God told me I was going to get baptized on this day, but then I got sick - the most sick I had been in years. Baptisms were in the ocean and since it was only the beginning of April, it was cold by mid-afternoon. I used to get sick in the dorms when we kept the air at 68 degrees for more than 4 hours - I knew how this normally would end, but God told me it was that day.
Put simply: Did I serve God, or did I serve logic? The world. My parents. Me.
Done with confusion, I got in my car and I drove down to Huntington beach. I texted my best friend my decision: I was getting baptized, because not only do I serve God, but I love and trust Him. She was so excited, but knew people had been cancelling. “Are you with anyone?” She asked. “I am alone,” I had to text back.
I do my best crying in my little 2007 Silver Vue. When I sent that text, I was overwhelmed with lies of loneliness, straight from the deceiver.
I wasn’t alone that night. I walked onto the sand and collapsed onto my family, who was more than ready to catch me. The whole night I was either engulfed in a full embrace, had arms around my shoulders or had hands in mine.
My family at SALT doesn’t serve logic. Or money. Or not looking crazy. They don’t serve lies. Consumerism. Man. They serve God and God only. We serve God and God only.
I got baptized that day. I got in the water, and pushed logic aside. When I was pulled up, my arms shot straight up: I was standing in the victory. I woke up Monday totally healed.