A Cleansing Baptism
Jesus himself says….“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28: 19-20
I grew up Catholic. That meant Sunday services, listening to a priest give a message, and then a whole bunch of standing, sitting and kneeling while reciting the same words from a book that we used every Sunday. I grew to like the rituals. Although some of it was boring to me, there was a reverence and beauty in the words and the tradition of reciting them. I mostly enjoyed the message and craved new insight and ideas about faith. I participated religiously as a kid, right through confirmation, fulfilling all my obligations and commitments as a faithful catholic, but I craved more. There were 2 absolutes I learned in my catholic upbringing that stuck with me through my Christian life – 1. We confess our sins to a priest in a confessional, then he gives you a penance, usually a list of prayers, and my sins are forgiven. 2. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins ( it’s in the apostle’s creed we recited every Sunday). This usually happens when we are babies, as it did for me.
So when I departed from my upbringing and moved into my personal walk with Christ in a non-denominational bible-based faith, I learned that I could confess my sins to Jesus daily, even moment by moment, and find the forgiveness I seek. This freed me to not carry my sins, until such time that I could confess them to a priest – and walk free of my sin every day! What a concept. One absolute dissolved for me, and I found myself drawing nearer to the savior I followed.
The second, concerning baptism caused me to question my beliefs for a long time before I made my decision. I always thought baptism was for people who were never baptized as babies, for people new to Christianity. Certainly not for me, for I was covered when I was a baby. Baptized early! I’m good. Through a small group study, we read that Jesus commands us to be baptized by water and fire (the Holy Spirit). He clearly states that an important part of obeying and following Christ is pledging ourselves to Him with water baptism. I wrestled with that notion for a long time…a LONG time. But the more I deliberated and meditated on the truth, the more it bothered me that I would walk in disobedience to the God I love so much, simply because I was taught differently. To surrender a belief I had held for my entire life was very difficult – and I almost felt like I was betraying my parents and my childhood faith. In essence, what I realized that I decided was to follow Jesus and his word, taking a stand as a mature Christian who wanted to further her faith and again draw nearer to her God.
When we choose to follow Christ for ourselves, and we may depart from the faith of our families and our upbringing, Jesus takes us down paths we never saw coming. And as we walk in this faith, when we choose humility and simple obedience to His word, which takes a certain amount of courage for sure, He blesses us beyond belief. This is what I found to be my new absolute. When we choose Him, we choose life and blessing.
My baptism was in a friend’s pool. I was surrounded by my husband, my kids, my pastor, my small group and my church family. It was chilly. It was refreshing. It was beautiful. Jesus did bless me that day and has continued to walk with me daily, as He did before I was baptized. I felt a cleansing in my heart and soul. It wasn’t earth shattering for me, but it was right. And true to His word, Christ has made his home in my heart fuller than ever before. Life has certainly taken me down some difficult roads since then, but when my heart is tugging me back to the truth of His word, I have learned to stop and obey – and invite His blessing ever back into my heart. And there He is, with me always to the very end of the age!