This past weekend, we had our annual Sunday School picnic and baptism at the lake. This is always a wonderful event filled with food, friends and fun! And the best part of all is this sight:
I have always loved me some baptizing! I think maybe because my own was such a big deal in my life.
I was not raised in a traditional Christian home. My parents had different views on religion, and they wanted to leave it up to my brother and I what we chose to believe. So I never really went to church growing up, aside from an occasional Midnight Mass at the Catholic church with my uncle. I was, however, sprinkled as a baby in the Catholic church to appease and reassure my paternal grandmother, who was terrified that if I died as a baby, I would go to hell.
(Please know that I'm NOT saying that all Catholics believe that way, but my grandmother did. And it worried her enough that my Protestant mother agreed to have my brother and I sprinkled as babies just to calm her down!)
When I was in high school, I started going to youth group with some friends. It meant on Monday nights at a local church. I learned so much there, and attended regularly for 2 years. But I had not yet gotten to the point of accepting Christ as my personal Savior. I knew all about Jesus, but I didn't think I had done anything "bad enough" to be saved from.
Oh the arrogance and pride.
So for 2 years I enjoyed going to youth group and learning all about Jesus, but I never let Him in.
Until the day that I broke up with my boyfriend, and had to admit to myself that some of the choices I had made with that boyfriend were... well... sinful. I felt abandoned and alone... and like I had sinned. I finally understood that when the Bible says All have sinned... that included me. I was so broken and ashamed. But I also was finally at the point where I saw my personal need for a Savior.
I couldn't even talk to God. I felt so unworthy. So I wrote Him a letter confessing my sin, asking for His forgiveness, and asking Him to be in control of my life once and for all. And the weight of sin was lifted off of me in such a way that I felt physically different. I knew that God had come in, and that He was going to be with me forever. (I still have the letter in the front of the first Bible ever given to me by the adult leaders at that youth group.)
About 6 months later, I went to college. And I started attending the Baptist Student Union as well as a Baptist Church. I heard people talk about baptism, but I never really felt like that was something I needed to do, because I had been baptized as a baby. And I knew that baptism didn't save me. I already had salvation! So I didn't understand baptism.
But as I continued to grow in my relationship with Jesus, I began to see that He did desire me to be baptized.. out of obedience to Him... as a public reflection of what had already taken place on the inside... as a witness to others about my new life in Christ... and as a platform to share my testimony. So, I decided to do it.
I invited my friends from the BSU (including Steve, who was "just a friend" then!) I invited some friends from my dorm. And I invited my family.
And they all came.
About 50 additional people crowded into the church pews that Sunday morning to see me "get dunked", including some friends and family who were not Christians. And after I was baptized, my pastor (Hi James!) had me give my testimony in front of the entire church! It was a pretty special day for a 2-year-old Christian college student!
So I love seeing baptisms! When I have the privileged of witnessing one, I'm the one who claps and lets out a loud "woo-hoo!" I just think baptism is such a beautiful sight! And I know that God is rejoicing right along with me.