Ever since I became a Christian, I’ve known I want to be baptized. After all, it is what you do: accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and get baptized as he was in the Jordan. I also didn’t want to rush into it; I wanted to understand what I was doing, and why, before going through with the act.
Along with my desire to study first, I also became a little fixated with the idea of having a beach baptism. Summit Church, which I was attending at the time, does these twice a year, and it just seemed like such a cool way to get baptized. I missed the first available opportunity after my conversion because it landed right after my wedding, and at the moment I felt it would’ve been too many things at once, but I said to myself, Next time, in the fall. I wasn’t pushing it off, after all, I was just waiting for the right time.
When we started attending Real Life Church, I filled out a connections card in which I checked the box that said “Interested in baptism.” Which I was, but you know, at some point. Then this last week I got an email from the connections pastor letting me know this would be baptism weekend, and if I was interested in getting baptized. The email arrived in the middle of the week, and I didn’t get around to replying until Friday.
I said I was, but not at this time, because a family member wanted to be present for it and would need time to travel, because I was still new to Christianity and wasn’t there a class to attend first maybe, because, because, because. I gave my list of what I thought were very valid reasons, and that was that.
When we got to church on Sunday, I saw the baptismal tub in front and thought, “Soon. Not today, but soon.” In fact, I sent out a picture with that statement on Snapchat! Then we went in, and I listened to Pastor Justin’s message on Acts Chapter 2, Peter’s first sermon after the apostles had received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (aka Shavuot, the commemoration of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai).
It’s a great message, but the punchline is this: those that heard Peter’s sermon were “cut to the heart (Acts 2:37),” “accepted his message [and] were baptized (Acts 2:41).” Likewise for me. I’ve known I want to do it. I’ve felt it in my heart that I have to do it. And as the service ended I realized I had no real reason not to go through with it right now. Every reason I had given before–waiting until I studied more, waiting for the beach baptism, waiting for loved ones to come visit, etc–seemed at that moment like an excuse. My heart ached with the pull of the Spirit. I turned to my wife and with teary eyes I told her, “It’s time. I have to do this.”
The church had shirts and shorts for those getting baptized in case they didn’t have their own. I’m a big guy, and I wondered if they’d have any in my size. The shirt was no problem, but they had no shorts that would fit me. I felt it was a test, but I’d made the decision and nothing was gonna stop me now.
And so, at midday Sunday, August 27, 2017, with my wife and baby daughter nearby, wearing a pair of jeans, I stepped into the cold waters of the huge tub, and at the pastor’s prompt, I confessed my belief. I held my breath, leaned back into the water, felt it rush around my face, covering me. For a few seconds there was stillness, silence. One life was over, and a new one has just begun. I emerged to a chorus of cheers from fellow churchgoers, and to the loving embrace of my wife.
This is only the beginning. Everything I’ve learned, and done, up to now has been a preamble. I am born anew. I am a changed life.