Having grown up in a very liturgical church, the idea of a “rebaptism”, or getting baptized again as an adult, has always brought about thoughtful conversation. I remember when I was baptized as an adult back in August of 2013. It was a neat experience, and it definitely brought about some really good discussion and thinking about what I truly believe about the sacrament. But… I’m not here to talk about the theology. I mean, sure, maybe a little, but only because the discussion earlier today sparked a really great analogy.
The first thing I’ll say is that I’m planning to be baptized tomorrow night at church. When this whole season started back early in March – when my plane entered into its final descent, to use my other analogy – I had this goal, this dream of being able to have a baptism where I could say yes twice. Once, saying yes to the salvation aspect of the cross. But two, being able to say yes to Jesus and His amazing grace and unconditional love. To believing it, to letting it truly affect how I live and move and breathe. I remember thinking about that during that first weekend in March, and in all honesty… I had no idea that I would be ready so soon.
So, earlier today, through an amazing and beautiful series of events, I decided that I’m going to make it happen tomorrow. But when I decided to share with my mom… for some reason, I was really nervous. Nervous about what the opinion might be of people who come from a hugely sacramental background, especially seeing as how we celebrated baby brother Caleb’s (infant) baptism just this past Sunday. But as we parted ways at the end of our conversation, she mentioned something about the concept of “renewing the vow”. And… well, it has had me thinking.
To go full speed with this analogy, let’s think about vow renewals in the context of marriage. Many people celebrate a renewal of vows at a 10th, 25th, or even 50th anniversary. But people will also celebrate a renewal of vows NOT coinciding with a particular anniversary, but following God’s amazing healing and restoration after a very difficult and tumultuous time in their marriage. In that context, basically saying that they don’t want to go another moment without publicly and emphatically saying that they really get it now and that they’re ready to move forward with eyes open like never before. They’re ready to move forward with an understanding they never thought they’d have.
When I was previously baptized as an adult, I feel like that experience was just for the sake of doing it. When I was discussing all of this today, I mentioned how I see now that back in 2013 I really had no idea of how much I didn’t know. I had no idea that the insurmountable burden of shame was still haunting me. I had no idea that I was completely unable to accept and feel and believe that God loves me. Yes I accepted His gift of salvation, but I didn’t live as though I had been forgiven. Without even realizing it, I was holding onto my chains even though He had already taken off the lock.
But in the last three months… oh my goodness. I am constantly blown away with all that He has done in such a seemingly short amount of time. It’s incredible; it’s crazy. When I think about baptism in general, I think about how in the past, I’ve never been able to truly know what it feels like to believe that my sins really are washed away. That I’ve said yes I believe it, but really it’s just been more about knowing what the Bible says and believing that the Bible is true. But now… now I feel like I can really appreciate that He loves me no matter what. He forgives me no matter what. I may feel like I deserve to be punished in some pretty harsh ways, but more and more every day I am leaning into His promise that it is finished. Tetelestai.
So tomorrow night at church, when I get into the water, I’ve asked the pastor who will be doing the baptism if he could actually ask me two questions. Individuals getting baptized at my church are always asked a question about believing in Jesus at their Lord and Savior, but I’ve asked if that could be followed up for me with a second question. I want a chance to not only say yes to the cross and His sacrifice for our salvation, but I want to have a chance to say yes to His amazing, beautiful, and unconditional love. I want to say yes to Jesus not only as Savior, but also as loving Abba Father. I want to say yes to finally – really for the first time in my 25 years – living like I am fully known AND fully loved.