Our pastor surprised us today with an unannounced baptism service. I am usually prepared for these days. I go light on the eye make-up, and I bring a healthy stash of Kleenex. I know me. I will start bawling as soon as the first person steps up to be baptized.
Today was no exception. In fact, it was worse. Today, there were no planned baptisms. It was basically a time for anyone who felt the call to be baptized to step forward and do so. There was a chance that no one would step forward at all. But at least 6 people did come forward and proclaimed their life to Jesus in front of our church. And I was a blubbering mess.
I got to thinking about why I cry every single time there’s a baptism. I think it’s because this is just the beginning for these people, and I know how much they have to look forward to. I also know how hard this path is, as well.
Perhaps it has more to do with my own journey than theirs. I remember what it was like when I made a purposeful choice to life my life as a Jesus follower, how it felt to be so on fire. Shortly after my baptism, I had a stillbirth, we fell deep into poverty, I was a battered wife, I got divorced, I became a single mother, I became lost… I went through a dark time in my faith, one where, even after proclaiming my life under Jesus, I chose to step outside my faith in my actions. I asked God to look away for a while so that I could live life according to my rules. I know now that God doesn’t work that way. He knows all. He sees all. And he loves me anyway.
Life now, it’s so much different. My faith is stronger. I am well aware of my blessings. I’m safe. I’m loved. And I love Jesus. I can feel God near me almost all the time. When I don’t, it’s because I’m not paying attention.
When I see someone getting baptized, I cry because I know that this is just the first step to a beautiful journey, and there is so much they’re about to experience. I cry when I see their family and friends surround them as they make such a life-changing decision. I cry because I know our Father in Heaven sees this and is so pleased with his child coming back to him. I cry because being wrapped up in God’s love and grace is such a wonderful feeling, and I wish everyone could understand how that feels.
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3: 26-29