20 January, 2008

Baptism

My friend Diane was baptized today. And I was there. It was amazing. Baptisms (and weddings) always make me cry. I don't have even have to know who the person is and I will start to tear. It's funny, but a good thing I think.

Baptism - the outward expression of the inward decision to adjust your life and follow God. A declaration of leaving the old behind to press on to what is better (and more difficult).

I was baptized when I was 15. My cousin and I were baptized by my uncle in the pond at the ranch I grew up on. It was freezing that day - I remember - the coldest
day in July ever! It was late afternoon, we had to wait until then because the staff I wanted to be there had to work until then. We fit it in between when the rides got back and dinner started. There were only a few staff there. At first I wanted to do it on a Sunday at the pool, or at the pond so everyone could be there. I realized later it was better to only have the staff who a) actually mattered in my faith journey so b) actually cared about me or my cousin there. It made it special, intimate.

Like I said, it was cold, and I think we might have been trying to beat a rainstorm. While my cousin and I shivered in the river, my uncle spoke of the importance of baptism. Jesus was baptized to start his ministry. It is the revitalization of a person, a life. It's an external sign of the things that have been done inside...

The imagery of baptism is so amazing. You stand as something dirty before and come up as something renewed. Dripping and cold you emerge clean and new. Nothing that plagued you before plagues you now - for He has taken it. He has removed everything you will let Him and if you let Him take it all the journey up is such a relief.

Relief. I was relived. My wak to God was marred with a lot of pain and struggle. i tried almost every other way to stop the screaming pain in my heart - and only He could. I love my walk to God, a series of puzzle pieces that fell together when the last piece struck. I accepted God alone in the kitchen at the ranch. Freezing in the Thanksgiving night - I cried because I finally knew I did not have to be perfect to come to God.

And that's the best part - we can come to God marred, imperfect, vile to ourselves, and utterly incapable of doing anything - and He'll love us. He'll give us a place at His table and lavish any good thing on us. The greatest hindrances to our walk with God is ourselves. It's one of the saddest aspects to me, but also comforting because it means I have an active role in my walk with my Father.

I fell under the water and let all the pain leave. It did not mean that I did not have to eventually face it, it just meant I did not have to face it alone. I stood in that water and looked at a group of people who assumed they knew me so well and told them all, "You don't know me at all," and yet they led me to God and for that I am eternally grateful.

My cousin and I's walks were so different. She had been a Christian all her life, I had just become one eight months before. Her faith was inherited, mine was fought for. I still consider that day to be one of the happiest in my life - being baptized with the person I would later be maid of honor for - my best friend, my Tisa!

I got to see Diane baptized today. She is a true treasure to me. DC would not be DC without her. Most of my crazy outside DC adventures have been with her. She makes me laugh, reminds me I am real, and is one of the most incredible people I know.



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© Amanda Lunday