“And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” Acts 22:16
Beginning my freshman year First Baptist Church of Henderson was my home, a refuge in my rather boring life that didn’t feel boring at the time. Throughout high school I was at the church if the doors were open. Serving Valentine’s meals and loving on kids at VBS each summer were just the beginning of my love of serving. The tip of that iceberg was our annual mission trips. Those trips are where I discovered Christ and His relentless love for me. Yet it still took a few years for me to give it all up to Him.
Which takes us to the fall of my senior year when I walked down the aisle during an altar call and fully accepted Christ. One chilly Sunday morning in January of 1996, I stepped into the icy cold waters of our baptismal “tub” to have my white gown swallowed up by the water and to drop my sins into that same water. Quite honestly, it would take me years to fully grasp what I experienced that morning; in fact, I think I’m still trying to grasp the juxtaposition of the enormity and simplicity of it all.
Because walking into the waters (of a lake, ocean, metal tub, or bathtub) is a simple, humbling act with enormous ramifications. Walking into the water is easy, walking out of it is where the real work begins. We’re publicly saying we believe that Jesus died on a cross for our sins. We are telling others we choose to be in their family. We are promising God to trust Him. We are announcing a belief in Someone who is often ridiculed, who was ridiculed just hours before His death:
[The religious leaders said:] “If he is really the Christ, the king of Israel (the Jews), then he should save himself by coming down from the cross now. We will see this, and then we will believe in him.” The robbers that were being killed on the crosses beside Jesus also said bad things to him.
— Mark 15:32
So many reasons are given or things said when you’re deep in the water with people about to take a step in their faith journey:
“I have asked Jesus to live in my heart forever and guide me.”
“I want to be more like Him.”
“He wants to have my heart completely.”
“I met Jesus and never want to be without Him.”
“I am joining a family of faith-filled believers, it’s like coming home.”
“Jesus died on a cross for me. He took my sins.”
There are also more personal stories of redemption and hope and trust that are shared. I know that every year at baptism I have a strong desire to do it again to proclaim to the world that I have an Abba Father who will never abandon me and who promises peace.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Whatever your baptism story is or will be, know that taking that step of proclamation is a leap of faith, trust, and hope that will be your anchor in this world of rocky waters.
When you step out of those waters, you are changed. You leave your sins in there to sink to the bottom. You step out of those waters redeemed and rescued.
“…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 3:21