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I burst through the water and gasp in the air around me. My breath shudders as water droplets drip from my hair and slip past my arms. My body is cold and I can't control an involuntary shiver. I wrap my arms around myself to collect some warmth. And although my body is freezing and my teeth are chattering my heart is so warm I feel as if it's going to burst right through my chest. I feel as if at any moment my chilled body will be consumed with the heat from my heart. I will be warmed from the inside out and the heat that suffuses my heart, my soul, will consme me utterly and completely. I am happy; soul-stirringly, jump for joy, tears of happiness, happy.

Before I stepped in the water I had stripped down to nothing, feeling embarrased, feeling as if I should cover myself up. But now with the trees looming above me and the sunlight peeking through their dense leaves I realized that that was the only way I could have gone to Him. Naked. Completely naked. It seemed right, somehow.

I had placed a clean set of clothing on top of a log and I put it on. After, I built a fire and placed my old set of clothes in it. I layed my pallet on the ground and rested on it. The stars winked at me and I sighed contendly. Up there, past the stars and the clouds, past the planets and their moons was my home. My real, true home. But the King of that Kingdom was closer still. He wasn't millions of miles away, was in fact much closer. So close that I felt His voice reverbarate within me and comfort me. I felt His touch and His calming presence. So this is what it meant to be born again? To feel clean, content, and yes, even righteous.

I am a new creation, I thought. I felt my mouth widen to a smile, from ear to ear in sudden joy, Oh the possibilites!

It wasn't until the next morning when I was washing my face did I remember to look at my hands. I dropped my hands slowly from my face and hesitantly, fearfully, I looked at them. They were clean. I sobbed with joy and relief.

Just yesterday, before my baptism, they had been stained red. I had almost peeled my skin off in my desperation to remove the stain, the evidence, of the murder I had committed. They had been stained all the weeks and all the months I languished in my depression and self-hate. But now, as if by magic, they were clean. I bore no evidence of my crime. But I knew it had not been magic, it hadn't even been a miracle. It had been love. Love, which had erased the proof of my sin and the guilt of my conscious. Love, as it were, had set me free.

And so now my Father's name is synoymous with Love. They are one in the same. And His son Yeshua, whom I murdered, I feel His love even now as I pen this. I feel it wash over me, wave upon wave. His acceptance of me, His need of me, humbles me to my core. I was once a lost sheep but my Sheperd recovered me. He rejoiced in finding me. I was once lost but now am found.


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