Photo by Laura Wilkerson Photography
I was 23 years old and I had “known” God my whole life but I hadn’t really committed or surrendered my life to Him. I went on a prayer retreat with 20 guys at Land Between the Lakes. My pastor told us to go out for four hours and pray by ourselves. I was thinking to myself, “What am I going to do for four hours? How am I going to pray for that long?” For the first hour I was just trying to get into prayer and trying to get the distractions of the world out of my head. I was still thinking about what I needed to do at home and all the things I could be doing. I was trying to break away from the world, but I was just in my head. I spent the second hour just feeling a little conflicted. I was both embarrassed and convicted that I had been thinking about myself and my life only for the past hour. I hadn’t been thinking about anyone else; I was just thinking about me. Then, in the third hour, I walked to the water and began to pray. During this time, God moved in a powerful way and gave me a Bible verse, 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” When I thought about this verse, I realized that anxiety had been killing me.
This verse resonated with me so much because there are no other verses in the Bible that directly say, “He cares for you.” I remember saying it out loud over and over. I was walking around the lake yelling that verse—shouting it! After saying it several times, the verse changed to something much more personal. I could hear in my spirit God saying to me, “Matthew, cast your anxiety on me because I care for you right now, because I love you right now.” I began to really understand all these different attributes of God—that He loved me and cared about me.
I began to walk around the lake taking in the beauty of everything. I was looking at the lake and suddenly realized that there were so many waves in the water. There was no wind and no reason that the water should’ve been so rough and restless. As I watched the waves, I thought to myself, “That restless water is like my spirit.” I saw that there was a rock by the water that never got covered by the waves coming in and out. It should’ve been covered, but somehow it was the only rock that wasn’t getting wet or getting swept away. Finally, a wave came and water covered the rock. At that moment, I knew I needed to be baptized. I wanted to be covered in water just like that rock, so I ran to my pastor and told him I wanted to get baptized.
The other guys on the trip gathered around me and prayed for me and I felt the overwhelming presence to bow down before the Lord and pray. After we prayed, we ate lunch and all went down to the shoreline and I was baptized at the lake. It was the perfect moment.
A few hours later we had dinner by the lake where I was baptized. I felt such a peace in that time, and there are two events that happened then that I will always cherish. One man said to me, “It was great having those six guys praying over you.” When he said that, the only thing on my mind was that I had felt seven hands when they were praying over me. I had six guys huddled around me and I could feel everyone’s hands on me, but ten to fifteen seconds into the prayer, a hand came from nowhere on my back—a hand that was so powerful and strong. It was warm and firm, yet soft and tender at the same time. And the placement of the hand was right in the center of my back. I honestly believe that extra hand I felt was the hand of God.
The second thing that happened that I will cherish forever is looking out at the lake and seeing that the once restless lake full of choppy waves was now the stillest, most peaceful lake I have ever seen. I felt like the stillness of the lake reflected my renewed and peaceful spirit after being baptized. I kept thinking, “God, I love you.” From that moment, I have been dedicating every day of my life to Him.
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.