When my daughters, Mallory and Sophia, originally told me that they wanted to get baptized, I’m ashamed to say I told them they should wait until they were sure.
How sure should one be when one gets baptized? In the Bible, believers were baptized immediately upon profession of faith. There was no “Wanna wait it out and see if it sticks?” or “Are your motives right?” questions. It was part and parcel of their conversion. And yet, there I was wondering if my girls (ages 11 and13 at the time) only wanted to do it because their friends were. Just to put some perspective on my stupidity, I was basically saying, “I’m sorry, kids, but just because everyone else is following Jesus, doesn’t mean you should too.”
I confess that some of my skepticism has come from witnessing those who have been immersed in the waters of baptism subsequently leave their faith behind. I was watching a video from our church of a service a few years back and almost 1/2 of those who were baptized had either left the church or were no longer following Jesus. Baptism is certainly no locked it, double-stamped it magic formula for our faith.
I have also known Satan to increase his attack on believers soon after baptism. Has God been glorified through your testimony? The enemy will find any way he can to discredit you. What are your areas of weakness or temptation? He will do what he can to reduce your faith and your witness. Perhaps there was a sense of protecting my kids in order to maintain that glow of Amazing Grace that young believers have.
My girls have actually both been believers for almost a decade. Their decision to follow Christ when they were little was real and true. Know how I know? They have a hunger and thirst for more of God. They are the ones to challenge me to keep up our family devotions or search scripture for answers to life’s tough questions or to go to prayer first about a problem. These girls are not immature in their faith by any means. Baptism was the very right choice for both of them. Of course it was, the first time.
When the announcement was made that we would be having another baptism service at church, Sophia said, “I’m getting baptized this time and you can’t stop me.” That shocked me into celebrating their decision to follow Jesus in this step of obedience. The wonderful news was that they were STILL doing it with friends! I hadn’t totally messed up! What would make it even more special is that my husband would have the honour of baptizing both of them.
They spent time working on their testimonies, without any help from Mom and Dad I’ll have you know. It was so cool to hear them articulate in their own words the point at which they received Jesus. Mallory talked about how brave she was as a young child to tell others about Christ and wished to continue in her boldness throughout her teens. The verse she shared was Philippians 1:20:
For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.
Sophia remembered living in Ghana and having bad dreams. This is when she first understood that Jesus was with her and she did not need to be afraid. His real presence comforted her. She has since been challenged since going to camp in the summer to recognize that every choice we make has an impact, either positive or negative. She was thrilled to find the following verse on her own and has made it her life verse (especially since her name means Wisdom).
Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. (Proverbs 8:10-11)
When the girls walked into that tank in their mini white choir robes, when they allowed their Daddy to show them where to stand and position them in front of the mic, when they read out their stories, when John-Mark lowered them into the water and raised them up again in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you can bet that my face was as wet as theirs, with tears.
A friend told me after the service that I could now die happy. She was right. This turned out to be what may be the proudest moment I would witness for my girls because I would choose Jesus for them above anything. Yes, above riches, above success, above recognition, above marriage or careers. They have already attained what I would want most for them, anything else is a bonus.
And to think I told them to wait.