In my email this morning was a link to Amber Haines' most recent post. At the end of it is a video of her oldest son getting baptized. I'll admit to getting a little teary-eyed when I watched it. The angels rejoiced and I cried.
I get that way at baptisms sometimes - either teary or just all tingly. It is harder when attending mass baptisms because everything is going so fast - people in the water then out of the water. Next! But I know that they are having their own teary/tingly experiences and it is good.
While watching that video this morning, I remembered the photo I carry in one of my Bibles. It sits on the page that has Acts 2:38 on it.
Then Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (KJV)
We didn't have camcorders in every hand back in 1979, so you will have to be satisfied with a photo of my big event. It happened in the Medina River while I was at church camp that summer. David Cudd dunked me in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and my life changed forever.
I'm going to call myself out here on part of this. My Mom and Dad were at camp with us that year. They were serving as cooks in that sweltering kitchen where we took turns at KP duty. Once I told my counselor that I wanted to get baptized, I was immediately sent to the kitchen to talk to Daddy. He wanted to be the one to baptize me. And I said that I really wanted David Cudd (the camp director) to baptize me. Which was true. But what I didn't say to my Daddy is "you scare me too much for me to want you involved in this." I don't think those words exactly describe the feeling, but that it the best I can explain it all these years later. I know I must have broken my Daddy's heart. Seeing that video this morning of little Isaac having his Daddy baptize him made me think of it more. Just this year, Daddy and I started saying "I love you" to each other when we walk out the door. It took us so long to get here. But we weren't anywhere close to that back in the summer of my 10th birthday. I'm sorry, Daddy.
Now that that confession is over...
I remember hearing preachers and devotional leaders read Acts 2:38 when I was young and knowing that my time would come to make that decision. There was not really any romance involved, as such. No flowery or emotional declarations. I just knew inside of me (I don't remember ever not knowing) that Jesus was always going to be part of my life, so I might as well obey the call to baptism and "get on with it". This is remarkable in that I was a very emotional child, so making a decision in such a pragmatic way was most likely surprising to the people who knew me best.
Looking back, I feel like something was missing in the way we went about it. In John 16:33, Jesus says,
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (KJV)
Some smart person even put that verse to music, an upbeat little tune that would help us remember the scripture. When reflecting on the scripture or the song, I think most of us skipped right over the part about "tribulation" and went straight to the "be of good cheer" exhortation. Yep, not paying attention to the whole scripture is always a way to get tripped up. Especially when you have a catchy tune running through your head.
I point that out to say that I wish David Cudd had issued me a warning when I came up out of the water 32 years ago. Something along the lines of, "put on your seat belt because this ride could get wild and bumpy" would have been helpful.
I'm not going to go into a full discourse on the teachings of the church I grew up in, but I will say that between what they were telling me and the details that my vivid imagination filled in, I thought that the life in Christ that I had taken on offered me some form of protection. For instance, if the Bible had said, "people are going to try to hurt you", my mind would fill in with, "but they won't succeed because Jesus is going to jump in there with His sword of justice and cut them down." Yeah! Take that, you big bully!
What a short trip down the road of disappointment that was. Jesus and His avenging angels were notably absent during the painful times in my life. I am not saying that Jesus was not there. I'm just saying that the Savior that I thought Jesus was did not come and rescue me.
It has taken years of the real Jesus chasing me down - just as I somehow knew He would - to get me to understand better how this is all supposed to work. The declaration I made at almost-ten-years-old was true. He has always been part of my life. I did not understand for the longest time what His presence and involvement was supposed to look like. It is becoming clearer now (still some work to do there). I'm glad that - with my incomplete understanding of Jesus - I did not know how "life just being life" was to play out. Being the type of emotional and fearful child that I was, I might have backed out.
That is the amazing thing about my Savior. He made it possible for me to come to Him and accept Him into my life, even with my very limited and skewed understanding. He gave me the faith that I would not have had otherwise. And every time I have wanted to walk away from Him because I was hurt or disillusioned, He has come after me. He loves me that much.
Awesome, isn't it? Do you know that feeling? Is He still chasing you?
I would love to know your story of making the decision to share your life with Christ. Was it pragmatic, like mine? Was it emotional? Were you young, old, in-between? Did you get sprinkled as an infant or dunked in a muddy river when you got baptized? If you feel comfortable, please tell us your story with us in the comments section. Sharing can be so encouraging!
Linking with Jen at Finding Heaven and the rest of the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood.
(click on photo to go check it out)