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Baptism Testimony

I didn't used to want to be baptized. I was too stubborn. I was determined to be the upright, genuine Christian who wasn't baptized—something of a superior class, I suppose. All that physical symbolism was for the archaic layman or the really emotional sort or the person who's afraid baptism is necessary for salvation. It's not for me. It's not for the steady, reliable believer who's doesn't have a big conversion story.

I was in preschool when I prayed the prayer. In 6th grade, I gained a deeper understanding of sin while bickering with my siblings in the backseat of the family van. When I was 16, I began a daily quiet time with the Lord. And now at 36, I'm hearing the Lord asking me to make my faith work.

Make the rubber meet the road. Get out of "morbid introspection and into deeds," out of "anxious hesitation and into the storm of events" (Rohr & Ebert, 129-130). Stop retreating into my head to figure out God and salvation and heaven and sin, and instead get on my knees, lift my hands, take communion, get dunked under water.

You know how people say that if you don't like someone, act like you do and the feelings will follow? Well, I think baptism is similar. When we don't know how to die to ourselves and live to Christ, we submit to baptism and playact the whole thing.
That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land! That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country. (Romans 6:3-5 The Message)
Baptism is a way for people like me, people who are stuck observing life instead of living it, to link actions to beliefs. Faith isn't just a spiritual or mental exercise but a physical one.

Similarly, when I get on my knees to pray, I'm putting my body into the humble position that my heart ought to be in. Getting on my knees helps me submit. When I eat the bread and drink the wine, I reenact the mysterious phenomenon of having Christ feed me and quench my thirst, i.e. satisfy all my needs. Taking communion helps me remember where my real nourishment comes from.

I have felt an urgency to be baptized at this time because of the conditions created by COVID-19. I don't mean a fear of physical death. I'm not afraid of dying; it's living that's the problem. Being stuck at home with my children and husband all the time has severely crippled my normal coping methods—that is, being alone and thinking things through in order to have enough energy to make decisions.

This time of quarantine has served as a spotlight on what the Lord began to show me several months ago through the study of the Enneagram: when I feel tired, angry, hurt, frustrated, or afraid, I rely on my own analysis and logic instead of Christ's solace and wisdom and almighty goodness. And let me tell you, my methods aren't working out for me right now. Just ask my family.

I want to let the old methods go right now, not when Covid-19 is over and life goes back to normal. I suppose you could say, I desperately feel the need to die to myself right now. And because my actions tend to lag behind my thoughts, I want to physically submit to baptism to get the flesh and the spirit on the same page.

I wonder if hereafter showers can serve as the daily reminder of dying to self—maybe bi-weekly showers for the harried mom.

Eugene Peterson once said in one of his sermons that "we die ten thousand deaths before we are buried" (Peterson, 25). What better example of this internal death than through the symbolism of baptism.

"There is no model conversion. There is no prescribed ritual, whether emotional or liturgical. We are all different. God is the same and has the same salvation to work in us, but he creates an original story every time. We acquire an appreciation for and delight in the features of our own stories and the stories of our friends as we tell our Jesus stories to one another in the community of faith." (Peterson, 293).

I feel so blessed to have been supported in this event by my family, neighbors, and small group. I hope you are encouraged in the work God is doing here and now as well.


"Happy Baptism Day. You are my special Mommy. Love, Rose"


Here's a link to a higher resolution video: baptism movie.


Peterson, Eugene. As Kingfishers Catch Fire. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook, 2017.

Rohr, Richard and Ebert, Andreas. The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 2013.

Comments

Robin Cox said…
David here using Robin's ID (theft :-)) God is making all things new. He made a new day today to prove it. So......Robin and I are drinking black coffee and the door bell just rang. A man my age or older with a Vietnam Veteran Navy cap on asked if he could buy some oak wood for BarBQing today. We have a little pile our oak wood from yesterday's tree trimming. I gave him what he wanted and told him I was giving this to him in Jesus name. May the name of Jesus be on our lips and His Spiriting reining in our hearts filling us with all we need for today. Love you and yours.
Ed Shackelford said…
I loved this testimony, Abby. It fits very well with what you have been sharing on Abby's Alley. We were both very, very glad we could be on hand to witness this. God give you joy, now and always!

GOOD! I'm smiling as I recall the title of one of Eugene's books... A Long Obedience.

And then the smile turns into a chuckle at David's post; evidence that yes, behind every successful man is a good woman (with an account). Love you, Abby.
Patty said…
I am blessed reading your testimony and watching your video! Wish I could've been there too! Having your loving family and friends with you must have been wonderful! God bless!!!
Unknown said…
This is wonderful Abby! Congratulations. I remember I did mine in a similar way, though not during a quarantine. :). I had been baptized as an infant, but when I was in my 20s, I realized I needed to be baptized on my own volition. And I did it in a creek in Vermont - by my best friend's dad, who was very instrumental in my accepting Christ. It was a great opportunity to publicly declare my allegiance and I was able to have a fair number of non-believers there. Sorry we couldn't be there in person, but thrilled you didn't wait on the government to tell you when you could be baptized. :)
Rick Garside

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