I thought this first story in this series was fitting beings its summer and many of you are heading off to the beach for vacations. I like the beach to and if I get the chance this summer you will find me sitting in a beach chair listening to the waves with my nose in a book. (with plenty of sunblock on! Oh, but that’s another story)
A few years back before we moved to Virginia, our church did a beach baptism. My husband and I were raised catholic and had been baptized as babies. However, since becoming believers and followers of Christ, we had not been baptized according to scripture. Since we lived near the beach all of our lives, this sounded like a very fitting way for us to be baptized.
Now I don’t know what I thought a beach baptism was, but after we signed up, I became a little nervous. You see, we were going to be baptized according to scripture, which means submersion.
Normally I don’t have a problem with going underwater. I have been known to do a hand stand or two in a pool, even a few laps. This was different. I was going under water in the ocean.
Jaws lives in the ocean.
You see, I don’t swim in the ocean. I love the beach, but I sit in a chair in the sand. I might even walk in the water till my ankles are covered. But I’ve seen the movie Jaws many times and I watch shark week every August. Which just confirms my concerns. I’m not taking any chances as far as the ocean is concerned.
Clearly God had other plans. I truly believe it was a nudge from Him that put it on my heart to be baptized in the ocean. Besides, I’d already told my husband we were going to do this together, so I couldn’t back out.
That day as I waited in line watching my pastors walk waaaaaay out in the water, I had plenty of time to contemplate all the terrible things that were going to happen to me when I went out there.
Was a shark hovering around just waiting for me?
Would a rip current snatch me out of my pastor’s hands and whisk me out into open water?
Will I look like a seal, the preferred meal of a shark, as I’m being dunked backward in the water?
Then it was my turn. And let me just tell you walking out into that ocean was extremely difficult for me. The waves were knocking me around, the water getting higher and higher, and oh, if you’ve ever been to the beach in New Jersey you know the Atlantic Ocean isn’t very clear.
What was that I was stepping on?
Although I felt a little like Dead Man Walking, before I knew it, I was there.
With no time to think, I felt hands on both sides of me. I heard my pastor speaking, I went down under the water,
and when I
Instantly, I felt God in my heart like never before. You, know that feeling everyone tells you will have when you "accept Jesus into your heart", but for some reason I didn't really feel when I first believed because I wasn't completely sure I believed it.
Even as I retell this story, my heart is beating fast as if I were experiencing it all over again.
And just like that, it was over and I was making my way back to shore and into the arms of my husband and children. As quick as it was, I know I’ll never forget that moment.
This picture was taken by someone from my church as I came onto shore.
No question about it, obedience to God is difficult.
God asked Abraham, the father of the Israel nation, to sacrifice his only son.
He chose David, the smallest brother to go up against the giant.
Jesus asked the disciples to let down their nets again after not catching anything.
He asked the rich man to sell everything to follow Him.
And He nudged an ordinary woman to walk into the ocean to be baptized.
(Which of course we all know is full of sharks, cue jaws approaching music)
Had I not walked out into the ocean that day, I know I would have missed out on special experience with God. Sure, I could have been baptized at church in the pool and it would have been just fine. I could have even opted out of the “long walk” and had the pastor pour ocean water over my head right at the water’s edge.
However, God had another way in mind, one that involved me setting aside my fear to be obedient. When I came up out of the water that day, I was overflowing with confirmation of God’s love and protection. My relationship with Him changed that day in a way I don’t think would have happened through any other experience.
The blessings we receive because of obedience will always far out way the difficulty.
Oh, that doesn’t mean you’ll find me swimming laps in the ocean.
I still don’t go in there.
But that day, because God asked me to, I did.
And there wasn’t a shark in sight.
How about you? Was there a time when you were afraid to do something? How did you handle it? Please share.