Have you ever closed your eyes and recalled the one event that defined your life? Can you find yourself back there reliving what it was that is and was so important to you? Yes, it could be your marriage or the birth of your children or a number of other things, but for me there is one instance that I can picture as clearly as if it were yesterday.
My marriage was an important event. I can close my eyes and still recall most of that day, but that is not the event. My children’s births were also an important day. I can recall many details about their surrounding birth, but that is not the one main event that defines my life. There have been deaths that have caught me off guard and I can easily recall those times as well, but they do not define my life.
The one event that defines my life and I can recall happened when I was a young adult. I can’t give you the exact date, or time. I can tell you the two people who were involved, but not who was present at the time. I am not even sure I can tell you the name of the place where it happened. I believe it was called Emerald Lake near Muncie Indiana.
The event I am talking about is my baptism. I was, like most people dedicated, baptized, sprinkled or whatever your church calls it as a baby. As a young adult my faith was and still is important to me. I knew at one point being dedicated or sprinkled was not enough for me. Before I go on I want to say I am not condemning the way you were dedicated, baptized, sprinkled or whatever you call it. I am not saying you have to do it a certain way, or the way I did it was the only way it can be done. All I am doing is sharing my experience with you and what I wanted for my life. I just knew God was calling me to immersion. I made the decision on my own with God’s promptings.
I went to my Methodist Pastor (yes Methodist) and I told him I wanted to be baptized. I have been told some ministers today don’t like “do overs”. I have been told some will say it’s not necessary and won’t do it. Others will agree to do it mentioning it as a reminder of your baptism at a younger age. Whatever, I just remember how important it was to me at the time. He agreed to do it along with some others who wanted to join me. I can’t tell you who those others were. I can’t recall who assisted the minster at the time. The minister and I had a close father daughter relationship. He later went on to marry my husband and I.
I can close my eyes and picture that day as if it were yesterday. I don’t know what I wore, but was given a white pull over gown to wear. The day was bright and sunny and I am sure it was warm. It had to be because this cold nature person would have thought twice about doing it at that time. I remember the immersion and the next thing I remember is the feeling of dying to self and being raised new in Christ.
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—“Romans 6:3-6 I know what it says in the Bible, but I remember feeling that. I remember how I felt as I came up out of the water. It was a feeling of new life, it was a feeling of death and it was a feeling of being alive in Christ. I have never forgotten that moment in my life or how it made me feel. That moment in time has defined my life along with all the other wonderful moments in my life.
Recently, in church we were privileged to remember our baptism. As I went forth to remember my baptism that day came to mind and all those emotions were present once again. It was powerful to remember that time in my life. The sermon the Pastor delivered was on Jesus baptism with John. He raised the question why did Jesus need to be baptized? I knew when I was baptized my old self full of sin was done away with. Jesus was not full of sin. I can’t recall the reasons the Pastor gave verbatim. I think He wanted to relate His experience of baptism with us. He did it to be a part of us and to set an example. Christ came to walk among us and live among us and to experience life and this is just one of those experiences He shared with us.
He not only set an example of being baptized, but He set other examples as well. We know He hung out with sinners and ate with those who society looked down upon. He did not walk among the elite, but those who society felt did not fit in and belong to their class of people.
I followed Jesus’ example of being baptized, not because I needed to, but because I wanted to, but that leads to some other questions. Do I follow Jesus examples in other areas of my life or do I pick and choose which one of His examples I will follow? Do I eat with those who others shun? Do I turn away from those who are different from me? Do I hang out just with those who are like me and like what I like, or think like I think or follow my ways?
If Jesus baptism was nothing more than just an example for us then are we right in choosing which of His examples we are to follow? Jesus gave us a lot of examples to follow; baptism may have been just one of them. If we truly want to live the kind of life Jesus has called us to then we won’t pick one example out of His life and say, “well, I did that.” We will examine all of His examples and follow them. We will see how He chose to love, how He chose to serve, and we will see how He lived His life and we will learn to follow His example.
I do recall my baptism, but it can’t stop there. I must recall all the examples Jesus gave me and try my best to follow Him and all the examples He has given me. If I died to self and was raised in Christ then I must live a life that is worthy of Christ.
Do you recall your baptism? Do you follow examples Jesus has given us or are you like me; you pick and choose the wants you want to follow?
Dear God: Have I failed in following all of your examples in my life? Have I picked the ones I want and forgotten others? Help me to discern those areas in my life that I have failed. Help me to lead a life that is worthy. I do recall my baptism and what a blessing it was, but let me not stop there, but move on to the other examples in the Bible you have shown me. If I truly believe that I died and was raised in you then let my life show it. May I follow you in all ways not just those I choose. Amen.