Monday, December 17, 2007

Baptism in a lake outside of Piura, Peru.
It has been several years since I had the privilege of baptizing anyone. When the request came to me from this small church in Chiclayito, a suburb of Piura, I was uncertain why they would want me to do such a thing, but was honored to be asked.
The Saturday morning, when we arrived at the lake, there were far more people than I expected. It turns out, that a sister church to the one I was there to serve, had scheduled a baptism for this same morning, at the same place. The two pastors then got together, and asked if I would be willing to baptize the new believers from both congregations. I was thrilled!
Since it had been several years, I had pressed my willing brother into a practice session in the hotel room. The bed became the water, and he got dunked repeatedly in the privacy of that room until confidence in the sequence was rebuilt (beds are not as buoyant as water).
Finding water that was deep enough near the shore where brothers and sisters in Christ could be involved was a more difficult task than I expected. Ultimately, the water was a bit more shallow than would have been optimum, but it worked out.
The first lady into the water was far up in years and needed help, as she was partially paralyzed. Her small frame shook as she neared me. Surrendering control to someone you don't know in a place you would never come because of your own limitations was a great metaphor for what was happening.
I had run through with the group to be baptized, the sequence of events once in the water. I am not sure this offered any comfort to one who knew she could not swim, should she slip out of my grasp. My pulse quickened, as I realized her fears.
I had never baptized with the assistance of someone else, but this time, was thankful to have another man in the water with me, who assisted each time.
Her underwater experience was brief, and was a picture of the death Christ suffered on our behalf. Being lifted back out of the water symbolized the resurrection, and her own being raised to walk in new Life, in Christ!
Salvation is not found in the waters of baptism. It is a response to Christ. A call to obedience. Salvation comes before baptism. Baptism is the first faithful step of obedience after surrendering to Christ. John the Baptist, baptized Jesus. He baptized many others as well, once they understood, that their lives were no longer their own, but His. This symbolic representation is not agreed upon by all believers. However, I see clearly in Scripture this picture of Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Our response to Him should never be borne of guilt or force. It should come as a result of studying Scripture, and following Christ where He leads.
The precious men and women who followed Christ into the waters this day, were precious, and reflected His aroma!
It was incredible for Brad and me to have the opportunity to take part in this with them.
Praise Jesus!


At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great experience. God Bless.

At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless,
Greenfield, Indiana

At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen Brent! It is so refreshing to hear of others baptism and to be reminded of that time in our own lives when we took that step, and what it felt like and what our hearts were like then.

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