Recently I had the opportunity to hang out with Central’s FloraBama Campus at the famous FloraBama Lounge and Package hugging the Florida-Alabama border. All week long, the FloraBama serves as a beach bar and on Sunday mornings it’s what hundreds call “their church home.”
Huddled under a tent shoulder-to-shoulder with people I met for the first time moments before, we lifted our voices louder than the pounding Florida thunderstorm threatening to leave us soaking wet. A sense of organic community swept among us as people engaged, worshipped, prayed, participated in communion, and then quickly we banned together to pack up church and set up the FloraBama to open for business.
But the day wasn’t over just yet. A young man decided to take his next step in the journey, his story of becoming who God made him to be. Surprising his family, he planned with the FloraBama crew to be baptized after the service. Jeremy, the FloraBama Campus Pastor, invited me to join him and the team for the ocean baptism. Before we saw the weather forecast, I had eagerly accepted—and then we found ourselves staring at double red warning flags, incredible surf and a stormy sky. And did I mention is was freezing?! But we stepped in the water anyways. We charged full-steam ahead with Anthony, baptized him, and as he came up out of the water, the smile on his face truly said it all: radical grace changed his life.
As I grabbed warm clothes and began to leave the campus, a statement a woman made earlier in the morning that deeply resonated with me came to the forefront of my mind: “I love the messiness of this because it’s me.” That’s it. That was the beauty of what took place in the bar that day—what takes place in that bar every single weekend. It was that special something in the water for Anthony’s baptism—messiness and the storm of life woven together with the threads of grace. If we didn’t have storms we wouldn’t need grace. My broken-down messiness is the living proof that I need a Savior and the gnarly waves we fought during Anthony’s baptism were a divinely creative reminder: grace is found in the middle of my mess.
How are you embracing the mess today in order to experience the radical grace of God?