My prayer for my children is that, as they grow, they would fall more in love with Jesus every day.
I bet a lot of us would agree with that statement. We pray for our kids to love Jesus and be a light for him.
I also pray that someday my kids would make the decision to be baptized. I pray that my daughters would have the desire to make a public proclamation of their faith. That was one of the reasons why, at the age of 36, I chose to be baptized by immersion. When I was born, my parents were attending a church where baptism by immersion was practiced, much as we do here at Berean. So, as a baby, I was dedicated in the church.
My parents divorced a few years later, and when I was five, my mom, my brother, and I joined a church that practiced infant baptism. As a five and nine-year-old, my brother and I were “sprinkled.” He and I both went through confirmation when we were in 8th grade – reaffirming the commitments made during our baptism – but I don’t know that either of us truly understood what we were actually reaffirming. Instead, it felt more like a class. While we did read statements of faith to the church, they felt more like assignments to be completed rather than a time to make our faith our own.
My faith became my own when I went to college. I accepted Christ through a campus ministry and truly began following him. God is so good! Some people find themselves falling into the party scene when they go to college. By God’s kindness and grace, I was hanging out at Bible studies and campus ministry mixers.
I always had the idea of believers’ baptism in my mind but kept thinking that it was something to do if you had never been baptized at all. I had been baptized. And dedicated. And confirmed. Plus, I didn’t want to do something that my family would interpret as being disrespectful to the way I was raised.
Baptism is a way to publicly declare your faith.
After college, I taught for seven years. I quit teaching six weeks before having my first child. We had her dedicated at Berean, and at that time I thought again about believers’ baptism. We were dedicating our daughter and prayed that one day she would want to be baptized to publicly profess her faith. How could I encourage her in that decision unless I had done so as well?
Here’s what held me up on that decision – pride. At that point, I was 31 and had been following Jesus for 13 years. I felt like I had missed the boat in publicly proclaiming my faith. I mean, hadn’t I already been doing that when I led Bible studies, talked with others about Jesus, and read my Bible? I just felt like everyone would see me differently.
Fast forward five years. My husband and I now had three daughters. We had been at Berean for six years, knew this was our church home, and felt called to become members. It was an important commitment to make. However, in order to become a member of Berean, you need to have been baptized by immersion. Unfortunately for me, my husband had been baptized as a teenager. I mean clearly, this was a wonderful thing, but it would have been so much easier if we could have done it together. I was going to need to do this on my own.
I decided to lay aside my pride (and my fear) and do it. The Bible calls us to believers’ baptism. Acts 2:38 says, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
I wanted my daughters to make the decision for themselves one day to be baptized by immersion. It was my turn to go first for them. And what a joy it was!
Baptism is a way to celebrate all that God has done.
Once again, God showed his kindness and his goodness to me. Two of my daughters, who were 5 and 3 at the time, got to sit in the service and watch their mom make a public declaration of her faith. I will never forget the huge embraces I received from them (and my husband) after my baptism. And I will never forget the conversations we were able to have with our girls – albeit on a preschool level – about what it means to be baptized.
I had friends who celebrated this event as well. And guess what? No one looked at me differently. No one discounted my prior years of following Jesus. Instead, everyone celebrated. Because that’s what happens at baptism – we celebrate! We celebrate that God is working in the lives of those in our church and that he will never stop working. Whether you have been a follower of Jesus for years, or you just came to faith in him, being baptized is a beautiful way to celebrate that.