“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” – Matthew 18:12-13
I think the cheers from the balcony pews help drive the point home. If you missed us last month, January 23rd hosted our second Baptism service at the new Ankeney location. As we partake in the Baptism of new believers, even in hearing the word Baptism in fact, it’s easy to think back to our own experiences with the Baptismal. For some, it was a behind the scenes bath tub, for others perhaps a riverbed on the outskirts of the suburbs. But even with those quick flashes of memory, it can be easy to forget what that moment was like.
I would not run the risk of saying that we take our faith for granted, but I find it inspiring or refreshing to look at Baptism – at a new birth in Christ – through fresh eyes. To become captivated once again by the childlike faith and the newness of putting your trust in God for the first time. To feel the relief of the cross and the fear in the back of your mind that questions, “what have I gotten myself into?”
Jimmy is a new believer and good friend to anyone with five minutes to spare. I wanted to sit down with Jimmy and walk through what a Baptism was like.
Standing backstage, behind the curved wall, you have no idea what’s out front. And there’s this feeling, this vibe, like waiting in the green room backstage on Johnny Carson. I could see Pastor Ken, and another guy on above him, directing us through. I was waiting in my green room, waiting for my seat on the couch with Johnny, waiting to feel like a star.
As I waited I paced, coaching myself through the moment, thinking, ‘wow, this is happening’. Two steps away I sensed the weightlessness of the water. One step away, and I started thinking about Neil Armstrong you know? ’One small step for man.’ I take my next step and there’s Ben, and for this fraction of a second I get lost, but then I here someone cheer out my name and I just snap back into the moment.
You know how people will say to a woman when she’s pregnant, you know like, ‘You’re glowing!’? That was me. After I came up from the water I just felt like a pregnant woman, just glowing. And you know, I look at the pictures man, of me in that moment, me after I was baptized, and too be honest, I look like this no teeth old woman with the whitest long hair. But there’s not a better looking picture of me, nothing depicts what I’m doing with my life now better than that moment.
I talked to Jimmy a little more about life after Baptism, but he was able to boil it down to one simple phrase. He said, “Baptism gave me the freedom to talk about Christ. I am not a split personality anymore” I like that. There’s that initial reaction like we tend to have with any good movie we see, to go out and tell everybody about it. To share with them the beautiful scenes, and perhaps walk them through some of the more terrifying ones, but you can do that now. You have seen the hope that lies at the end.
I think Baptism is a beautiful thing. It will always resonate with us in a unique way. For Jimmy, unfortunately, Baptisms may always make him feel like a pregnant woman. No matter what that memory looks like, it should always come as a reminder to bring us back to Christ. A reminder that says, “We once were dirty, but in Christ we have been made clean.”