As a Christian (protestant) mother I have been thinking alot lately about Baptism. My oldest son was Baptised at 8years old on Christmas Eve. He was begging for months but I wanted his Dad home to witness such a special event. He was gone on a deployment and had long since passed the one year mark, I was expecting him anyday and just couldn't bear for him to miss one more thing! Now that my second son Paxton is 6, he has a firm grasp on what it means to be saved. He often asks questions and ponders Jesus and Heaven. He is not quite ready for Baptism but I know the time is approaching fast. Im overjoyed that he has become a follower of Jesus and cant wait for the day we make that decision official and follow that decision in believers Baptism. Because of our recent thoughts and discussions I have turned my own personal study to Baptism and what the Bible has to say about it. which leads me to share my Baptism story....
My story is quite different than my son's. How I would love to share that I accepted Christ as a child ( I did) and quickly followed him in Baptism. But that is not the case. Baptism wasn't regularly discussed at my house or church. I only recall seeing a Baptism once as a child and even though we weren't regular church attenders I assume they weren't doing it alot or i would have seen a few more. I remember a friend being Baptised in private. She was freezing wet and confided in me that it was scary and she did not recommend it. That was all I needed to hear, i wasnt doing it, and nobody was talking about it much so I easily got out of that one :) Fast forward 15 years and there I was a member of a big beautiful Baptist church in Alaska. Not much different than my nondenominational one back home besides the Baptist part. My friends brought me there and my dad was a Baptist so i figured there wasnt much to be afraid of though many before and since have encouraged me otherwise. Each week I watched people get Baptised. Quickly this raised questions for me. I knew I was a Christian and a follower of Christ, I had recently and swiftly been growing in my walk with him, but was Baptism gonna ruin all that?? I mean, i was NOT going to do it (certainly not at this big church in front of everyone and on TV) so i needed to know if I still had a shot without Baptism? was I doomed? because again, I was NOT going in that water! well I met with my beloved pastor at the time. He encouraged me to get Baptised and skated around the fact that yes, i was still going to heaven with or without being publicly drowned and humiliated. I could walk through those pearly gates regardless although he was not really excited to tell me the good news, i was thrilled and comforted that I would never join the crazy masses who have entered that water only to be permanently traumatized :) I would survive eternally escaping that fate! Acts 16:30 clearly states "what must I do to be saved?" the answer "believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved" hooray
When my son wanted to go for it, i was thrilled! I thought Baptism was great, just not for me! and what a joyful memory for him to mark his rebirth washing away all sins forgiven by God. I was so proud and even as we walked up the stairs to be baptised, i said to that same pastor "I should do it to" and he of course encouraged me, but did not push and so I took pics, hugged, grinned and enjoyed the Baptism of my son remaining perfectly dry and hidden from the crowd by a curtain! by this time I was beginning to understand the importance of Baptism as an act of obedience and public profession of faith. I knew how special it was, but there was a whole lot of fear holding me back.
A couple of years later we made the move to az which meant the move to a new church. We quickly found the biggest Baptist church in town, Sierra Vista First Baptist. There were a few hundred members and it became our new church home. We were welcomed and felt loved like never before! It was great, and then.....to join I had to take a class??whaaat, a class, an all day class, no way! I cannot , I will not, i have 3 kids (pregnant with a fourth) and I just dont have the time. It made no sense just to join? .....But then I met Jennifer and her two beautiful daughters. She told me she was taking the class the next week. Both of our husbands were out of town (which to me meant putting it off till later) but as she would show me over and over, army wives are strong, we can do many things with our kids and without our husbands, when we have to. Even join a church, so I signed my name under hers. This beloved church provided food and childcare and really made it to easy to say no. So the next sunday Jennifer and I began our journey to get to know the church. It turned out the class was a great idea! I truly knew what I was signing up for! I spent that day with Pastor James Harms and learned exactly what SVFB was all about. As the session came to a close and my love affair with SVFB was warming up, Pastor Harms brought up the B word......he obviously didnt know that I had long since researched my way out of that mess!! He shared a personal story of his mother's own delayed Baptism and Jennifer openly shared how she had been saved for a long time and also not baptised. What a coincidence I thought, they were both like me, only I was NOT gonna do it. Jennifer was ready , no fear at all. I told Pastor Harms all the reasons I could not, my husband was gone, I was hugely pregnant, i even told him it was scary, there were too many people looking at me etc etc. He comforted me and assured me (he did not force or push) that I would emerge from the water safe and sound if I chose to follow Christ in Baptism. He assured me that those prying eyes were simple loving churchgoers proud of my decision and willing to support me as a follower of the Lord. He even mentioned that as a pregnant mother the baby would be Baptised too! 2 for 1! "Really"i asked, "Nope haaa" he laughed but who says pastors aren't comedians :) and so, i thought, for just a moment, that maybe, possibly, i could do it. I was certain a catastrophe would befall afterwards and my very first panic attack was eminent, but I was going to do as Christ had asked, I was jumping in belly and all.
With Jennifer by my side the next sunday, I dressed in my best maternity suit, put on that white Baptismal rode (complete with weights at the bottom to keep everything covered lol) and joined Pastor Harms in the dunk tank. We did a couple of mini practice dry runs before so I trusted he wouldn't hold me under or throw me over into the choir. The lights were bright and man, the faces of those choir singers were awfully close, but it was wonderful, comfortable and most of all symbolic of the sins Christ washed away on the cross that day. I was saved, and now Baptised and I felt it. Christ was there, he was proud that I conquered my fear. For me that day was not the beginning of salvation, but the end of separation. No longer would I be keeping a secret, holding Christ at arms lengthy defiantly. I would go on to grow closer with him over my period of time at that church and I have no doubt that God used Jennifer and Pastor Harms that day to help me get there. God gave me a place and people that made me feel safe and comfortable and most of all helped me to feel the love of Christ shining. Before I left I would dedicate two children there with the support of the same congregation who supported my Baptism and commit to raise them with Christ and hopefully to choose Baptism for themselves!
So looking back do I regret waiting...yes and no. Now I know that it would have been better to choose Baptism as soon as God gave me the knowledge of its importance....but God also gave me a very special Baptism at a very special time in my life with a very special friend , Pastor, and church to guide me. I hope to teach my children the importance of Baptism, letting them choose the right time to follow through just as Parker did. Hopefully they are less defiant than their mother :)
If you , like me , are avoiding Baptism, my advice is to find someone to hold your hand. Maybe a longtime friend or someone like Jennifer whom you just met. Someone special to walk you to the tank, helping to ease those earthly fears of crowds or water or drowning in general. You must enter by yourself but as soon as you get in you will quickly feel Christ there with you and you will not be alone, you never really were :)
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