Do You Remember Your Baptism?
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Her name was Krystal. Yes, with a K. She was ten and had asked Jesus to come into her heart the way most ten year olds do, with simple childlike trust. I told her a good next step was to follow Jesus’ example and be baptized. Krystal said okay. It was to be her first baptism experience and my very first to administer as a pastor. I confessed to her that last bit and she seemed pleased that she would be the first, that it would be even more special.
The custodian of the little country church told me everything would be taken care of, not to worry. But I did arrive a little early that Sunday morning to ensure all was well. What I found was a baptistry full of brown water, not a faint brown like you get when there’s sand or debris in the line, but a dark mocha, like a tub full of coffee. He apologized, said there was a problem with the well outside, but he’d put a pool cleaner in the night before to try and clear things up. So floating on top of the water was a plastic green turtle with a timer dispensing cleanser of some sort. Yes, I’m serious.
I did believe Krystal and I could overcome this; the turtle would help, I hoped. But the next words from the custodian’s mouth left me speechless: I didn’t get a chance to fill it early so the water could come to room temp, so … it’s pretty chilly. I’d waterskied sans wetsuit in January and swam in high mountain lakes before, but I was quite sure Krystal could not say those same things.
At that point I was certain what she had imagined as her special entrance into new life with Christ was going to be anything but; in fact, a part of me just wanted to call the whole thing off. But Krystal was ten and a survivor. Her family life could be summed up with the word ramshackle. What was a little cold water? So after giving her an honest assessment of the baptism-moment-to-come, she smiled and said, "That’s okay."
The water took my breath away that day. When Krystal stepped down into the water—it took hers away, too. We stood there in that freezing brownish soup with a turtle on top and literally shook, both of us. I teeth-chattered the words about being buried with Christ then quickly plunged that little girl below the surface and even more quickly raised her to walk in newness of life. The congregation said amen, and Krystal and I got the heck out of there.
Not long after that moment I graduated from seminary and left that country church and its precious people for bigger although not necessarily better things. I’ve wondered from time to time about Krystal and what she found as a young girl from then on that would have been discernible as new life. I pray she kept at it, so to speak, and found days if not seasons of God’s blanketing warmth and anti-ramshackleness. All I know for certain is that her introduction to it all was shocking.
QUESTION FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Recall your introduction to the new life in Christ. What words would you use to describe that time in your life and the feelings associated with it? Would you say it was what you expected? Or did you even know what to expect? Did you experience some discernible changes in your life or did things stay pretty much the same?
PRAYER: Jesus, give us the eyes to look back honestly on our first steps of faith, regardless of what they looked or felt like. If they were good, may we be grateful for them. If they were less-than, may we find grace for them, too, for the essential truth is that they led us toward you, into something we’d not experienced up until that moment. Maybe it wasn’t so much a new life, Lord, as it was a new way of living. But either way, thank You. Amen.
Find New Life
Feeling lost? God invites you to inhabit new life. Wherever you find yourself on the journey, God is always calling us to something even more. The Bible reassures us that God is doing a new thing (Isa. 43:19), and yet we sometimes pass over the new thing in search of the next thing. But what if what God has for you is in the letting go of what you know and what you've already done? To find life, we must first lose it (Matt. 10:39). But what does that mean, really? Join us for this series, Find New Life. Together, let's find our footing. Let's embrace the new thing God has for each of us.