Saturday, 27 November 2010

The Baptism Buzz

Dear UK, (I've decided to work up to global influence)

I was in Plymouth last weekend, having travelled up on the train for a friend's baptism, and it got me to thinking... what are your views on it? Ever noticed how some individuals, upon being plunged into H2O at your local swimming pool/convenient piece of ocean, resurface with glowing faces, a renewed sense of purpose, or even a fresh anointing?

And ever seen (or been) the one who just... well, doesn't?

I was baptised when I was fourteen, with godly men and women surrounding me and so much fervent and passionate prayer for my walk with God that divine revelation seemed imminent. I stood with my feet firmly planted so that any surge of the Holy Spirit could be met with a certain amount of dignity (I considered that the probability of being plastered to the floor was lessened slightly with due preparation, regarding the ratio of balance to force). I made fervent noises of agreement. I scrunched my eyes shut with the consequence of pensive and careful furrowing of the eyebrows to express my anticipation to God.

If a checklist existed for 'factors needed at a proper baptism', I thought I had ticked the boxes. I felt duly prepared. So imagine my chagrin when... no spiritual enlightenment was beamed directly to my brain. I felt deflated.

What does baptism do?

Well, for a start, it does not redeem you. The act of being submerged in the water is not the moment when your sins are washed away, when the Father is only then available, or when salvation is given to you. Only the blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient for that, which means you've already got all those (now that you've chosen to get baptised).

It isn't (unfortunately) a moment of enlightenment, where life becomes that much easier by intergalactic secrets being soaked up by your noggin at the same time chlorinated water is clogging up your ears. 

It is a moment where you state publicly your decision to walk as a follower of Christ. I've heard it called a 'step of faith', which I really like. I used to stick to my beliefs because I was stubborn as a mule, and I thought it was awful to have doubts. I thought that was faith. I now realise, thanks to the wisdom of many men and women of God whose words (and lives!) have demonstrated this, that faith is the decision to believe God and His word, even when (or especially when) you have doubts. In the original transcript, the word faith is a verb, not a noun. It's something you do (and continue to do), not something you necessarily have straight away. It's therefore something you may need to learn!

I know I did, and still am. And probably will continue to do so for the rest of my life. My Heavenly Father has revealed Himself to me countless times since that day on the poolside. He doesn't work my way - which is something I've had to learn! I've grown into a relationship which is as intimate as it is unshowy sometimes - characteristic both for the moments when I can tangibly feel His presence, and the times when I'm slogging through snow, the wet and the cold, with an awkward plastic box and not enough grip on my shoes.

If this was an essay, I'd be marked down for structure, seeing as it has rambled all over the place before getting back to the point I began with. My old teacher might despair. And yet, as I'm finishing, I can't help but think that this blogging thing isn't half bad.


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