My daughter Maggie will be baptized on Sunday.
She will don a white robe – which she thinks is weird, step into a heated pool of water – which she thinks is weird, and confess before a church, many of whom she barely knows (which she definitely thinks is weird) that she has trusted Jesus Christ as her Savior.
But that part isn’t weird?
The world at large would say that believing in a man as your Messiah and Savior who was executed in typical Roman fashion over two thousand years ago for alleged crimes against the state, believing that he is God and that He actually places His spirit within you and grants you as co-heir a place in an eternal heaven IS THE WEIRDEST THING EVER.
And the most shockingly beautiful.
Face it. Christianity is definitely weird. Or it is until that moment your disbelieving mind suddenly begins to realize that yes, what the Scriptures say are more true than the skin stretched across the back of your hand, more true than the pull of gravity against your foot.
Maggie felt this stir of conviction in her heart during Vacation Bible School this year. She reluctantly indicated so on a response card.
Reluctantly, because Maggie is a wee bit prideful. She told me there wasn’t a box that indicated her true desire, which probably was “Believe in Jesus and be left completely alone about it because then I’d have to admit to someone other than myself that I’m a sinner.”
She’s a lot like her momma.
Sweetly enough, Maggie’s friend Sawyer had checked the same box on her response card. But Sawyer’s sweet, quiet spirit was intimidated by the idea of what would happen next – a visit to The Pastor (cue the scary music!). And Maggie’s more prideful, arch spirit was fighting against the necessary surrender and humility of presenting herself as a sinner in need of a Savior.
It was a dilemma. Both girls seemed frozen and resistant. Did this change the beauty of what was happening in their hearts? Not one bit. But did we need to find a way to move them down the discipleship path? Absolutely.
So Sawyer’s mom Ashley and I talked about it. And we decided they could do it together. All of it.
God’s work is calling and saving. Our work is responding and submitting. And they had, individually, in their hearts. But at that point, both of them had fleshly inclinations they had to confront. As we all do. For one, timidity; for the other, pride. And rather than give them the seemingly insurmountable task of facing that battle alone, we turned them toward each other and whispered, Fight it together.
American Christian faith instruction is often presented as an individualistic, vertical act between that person and God, alone. But is that actually how we were made to practice our faith? We practice our faith in community for a reason. To encourage, to hold accountable, to support, to help carry the burden. So why not in this, the most critical of all faith moments: the conversion.
Sawyer and Maggie’s history extends further back than just this experience. In the same church, on the same dais, on June 15, 2008, both infant girls were dedicated to God.
The Christian service of baby dedication acknowledges God’s sovereignty not only over the child, but also the parents. We were presenting our children before God and His church, not to show off, but to humbly ask for grace and wisdom in carrying out our responsibilities as parents. We also prayed that our baby girls might one day trust Jesus Christ as Savior for the forgiveness of sin.
And that day has come!
We were only acquaintances then, the Prices and the Cooks. We stood together that day, never dreaming that ten years later, in almost the same month, we would stand together again with these same girls, in this same church, as they both declared their new faith, the very faith we had prayed for a decade earlier.
Both girls, in walking the journey together, have helped the other as she hesitantly approaches the Father.
And why shouldn’t there be hesitation. Everything in the fallen world wants to work against the transformative power of Christ in us. Our own pride or fear or whatever will hold us back. And that’s where the beauty of friendship comes in. And shouldn’t that be the most deeply held hope for friendship? That in going together, you spur one another onward in the pursuit of truth?
So celebrate with us, friends, as we welcome these little ones to answer Jesus’ eternal invitation: Let the children come.