You know how dirty, sweaty, hot and tired you feel after a long summer Saturday of doing yard work…and then you take a long shower…and then you feel almost like an different person when you get out and get dried off and put your lounge clothes on?
Yeah…this isn’t like that at all. It’s better than that. It’s so much more than that. It’s profound. It’ll shake the ground you’re standing on. It’ll break your heart so it can be lovingly mended again. This is baptism. This is my baptism. And it was freely given—a gift…all I had to do was to choose to accept it and it was mine, all mine.
I was so broken going down into that water. Before, I’d placed my faith and trust in man…man who is fallible. Man who is imperfect. Man who is often fickle. I’d put my relationship with Jesus up on a shelf and only dusted it off occasionally. I’d blatantly ignored the sage advice of Proverbs 13:20 those many years. With each step into the lake, my heart crunched and broke more. It’s true, you know. Sometimes you have to break down before you can be built back up. What I craved, what I needed, and what I sought desperately without realizing it most of the time over the last decade and some change was the love my Savior wanted to willingly give me, to truly believe He wanted to freely give it to me, that I am worthy, and that heart-mending that comes with this realization—it happened in all of a few seconds, but I’ll tell you it felt like a lifetime down there. Not in an alarming way, mind you. It just felt like the old was carefully chipped away after a good soak. “Baptism is like that. It saves you now—not because it removes dirt from your body but because it is the mark of a good conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21 CEB).
When I was lifted up out of that water, a new world awaited me. A new, whole me awaited me. It’s really hard to describe adequately because words don’t do it justice. Colors are brighter, smiles and laughter are sweeter and more powerful, love is there sitting thick and heavy in the air like sweet nectar. In what was still a tumultuous time in my life, the gift of that baptism was and is a constant reminder of His unending, unshakeable, undying, unconquerable love for me. Nothing can change that. Nothing can take it away. “…but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life” (John 4:14 CEB).
In the little church I grew up in, it’s common practice to baptize babies shortly after birth. But I now fully understand why it’s so important for each person to make a decision to be baptized later in life. Only then can they fully realize the promise they are making to (and with) Jesus in those moments. This symbolic cleansing is more than a ritual of our faith. It’s an outward sign, sure. But it’s an inward washing and softening of those hard and rocky places that need His love most. It’s a healing salve for what’s broken. It’s our bond with Jesus…it’s trust and belief. Faith. And you can feel it. You can almost hear it under the water. He’s there with you, holding you. Embracing you. Paul writes to the people of Colossae “You were buried with him through baptism and raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12 CEB). That’s exactly what happens as your rise from under that surface and out of the water.
I’d love to hear your baptism story. I’d love to answer your baptism questions. I’d love to share more of my story with you. I’ll be out there at Lake Cammack on August 30th for SMC’s Baptism Sunday. I hope you’ll join us. Come find me (I’ve volunteered to help)…See you there?
“This is the one who came by water and blood: Jesus Christ. Not by water only but by water and blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth” (1 John 5:6 CEB).