Sunday, July 17, 2011

baptism - thankful #3 of 50

seven people came to be baptized at lighthouse today -- one of the great joys of church life. one of the traditions of lighthouse is to have each one give a testimony (a 'faith story,' in lighthouse parlance), and without fail, they are awesome. hearing these seven share was the most worshipful part of a worshipful morning.

one couple who got baptized was actually led to the church through their daughter, who was baptized at lighthouse a while back; they had been occasional churchgoers, and landed in an alpha group at lighthouse, then a follow-up small group; and over the course of about 20 weeks, a whole new vision unfolded for them of what a life with God could be like. several young people (from high school through young career) talked about growing up in the church yet never really connecting with the presence and power of God until recently; some had faced adversity (including the unexpected death of one person's mother), others just hadn't experienced the peace, freedom, and power church people often talk about but don't always evince. one woman tearfully told of finally realizing that though she had considered herself a believer for years, she had never really loved God with all her heart (as she did her husband); she later told me of a conversation she had with a friend, who asked her, "can you imagine what it would be like to have a heart full of love for God?" and knowing that she couldn't; but she told me joyfully that now she knows what that is like.

when i originally thought of writing about today, my thoughts went immediately to the meaning of baptism, in all of its layers. that kind of theological reflection is satisfying for me and so easy -- it just seems to pour out of me. (bobby clinton is right; ministry really does flow out of our being!).

but as i look back on today, what i find in my heart are joy and gratitude. there is nothing more delightful than seeing the blossoming of new life in Jesus through his Spirit. it's one of the things that missionaries literally live and die for; and i, though no longer a missionary per se, still love it. i never get tired of hearing the different ways that God reaches people, loves them, and transforms them. i never get tired of celebrating changed lives, of being able to see the difference on their faces and in their posture or their walk. as one of them reminded me today, it doesn't mean that all of one's problems go away; yet truly, "old things are passed away and behold, all things have become new!" (2 corinthians 5:17).

and so i thank God -- for the privilege of walking with people through these extraordinary seasons of their lives, for the joy of a life with meaning and purpose, and for giving me a piece of something that will last forever.

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