Monday, February 13, 2006

The Story of my Long Over Due and After the Fact Baptism

Yesterday I was baptized into the Baptist church. Yes, I was raised in the Baptist church and though I dabbled in visiting a few other kinds of churches, at one point in my life, it is where I wanted to ultimately serve God with my membership.

If you are familiar with Baptist belief you will know that once you have asked Christ to come into your heart and accepted him as your Savior we believe that we are to be baptized to show our obedience to God and our desire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist before he began his ministry, Baptists believe this should be our first step of obedience to Him upon accepting Him as Savior and turning our lives over to him and is symbolic of our own death to self, burial and resurrection as a new creature, in Christ Jesus. So, what happened to me? I fell through the cracks, so to speak. I'll explain how.

When I was about 5 years old I had a great uncle who occasionally took me and several of my aunts and uncles to church. If we memorized a Bible verse he'd give us a quarter. One morning when I went to church with Uncle "Fred," he asked me if I wanted to go down front to get "saved." I didn't really know what he was talking about but I could tell it was something that he wanted to see me do and being the accommodating little 5 year old "people pleaser" that I was I agreed to go down front and get saved. I was baptized shortly after that, I remember Mother purchasing me a special, white chiffon dress to wear and it hung in the closet for a few years after that.

Later, when I was about 12 or 13 years old and living in Arkansas, already a member of the church because I was recognized as having been baptized years before, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and I had the genuine experience of "salvation." Those of us who have experienced salvation know just how real it is and cannot describe it to those who have not felt Christ fill your heart with love, mercy, grace and compassion. I felt all of those things that day, I felt that joy, that love, that cleanness and wholeness, but the church did not recognize what had happened to me as "salvation," they viewed it as more of a "re-dedication" because, after all, I had already been "saved" and baptized into the church. Little was said to me about my experience, there was no such thing as a Youth Minister/Pastor in those days. So the years ticked by and I didn't even realize for years that I had missed getting baptized as an act of obedience to God until a few years ago when God laid it on my heart and I began to feel under conviction for not having been baptized. I even questioned if I had and had forgotten it.

Why now? That's an interesting twist. I have let this go for years but a week ago, yesterday, my boy, the one who used to be a neighbor and who my husband and I have been taking to church for about three years, went down to the front to join the church by baptism. He had been saved a few years ago and had been wanting to be baptized for some time. I knew that he was going to go forward that morning and had made sure that he understood what he was doing and why. Before the service, I spoke to the Pastor about my situation and he looked into it at my old church and could find no record of me being baptized after I was 12 or 13 years old. I decided to approach him that day because I thought it would be special to be baptized on the same day that my little "adopted grandson" was baptized. Little did I know that on the following Wednesday night at Awana Club, his little sister would give her heart to Jesus!

Yesterday, I didn't even realize at the moment how blessed I was, each moment of the time since yesterday I have been more and more aware of how blessed that moment was. You see, I stood next to my Pastor in the baptismal while he baptised first my little 10 year old "adopted" grandson, then my little 6 year old "adopted" granddaughter, then me. I watched the faces of these precious children and had the privilege of being in the same waters with them at the Pastor's elbow, so close that at one point I thought he was going to step on my foot. I was right in expecting what a blessing it would be to be baptized on the same day as my boy, I had no idea that the Pastor would call us all in the water at the same time and that I would take part in such a special and historic moment in their lives so "up-close and personally." I thank God for His blessings on my life. I thank my Pastor for the way he allowed us three to, so personally, share in each other's baptisms. I am so accutely aware of the privilege bestowed upon me yesterday, and with each moment my heart grows larger with the love and humble feeling of my own unworthiness to be in that position. Thank you, GOD, for your unmerited favor!!!


PJ said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience Jacke. What a joyful day!

Jacke M. said...

Oh, Peege! It was my pleasure, I'm doing my best not to turn into a bawling, blubbering idiot after having written it! Yes! A joyful day it was! :)