Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)
TITLE: Frank's Baptism
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He looked down and around the pool from a distance, having walked through a waft of inexpensive perfume and pockets of pleasing chatter.
Behind the pulpit was the baptismal pool. This had always been Deacon Jarvis’ experience visiting local, Baptist churches. He figured the mega churches wouldn’t need to think along multi-functional lines when they baptized, and probably had a separate place to perform this ritual. To him, however, the changing of their pulpit in that way was an indication of both ceremony and convenience – those things operating together, sustaining a purpose – proving a foundational point he stood there appreciating: God is everything, and everything of any sort, makeup, or imagining belongs to Him.
A varied group stood in white robes, waiting and watching. There was a young boy, an older woman, and Frank Jenkins -- a middle-aged man the Deacon had known for many years. He was the reason for the Deacon’s visit, and he found himself thinking again about their recent conversation.
Frank’s baptism was not like Jarvis’ had been. The difference with Frank was age … as well as the man’s nagging history:
“I don’t know Jarvis, this is a really big deal,” said Frank, “I’m kinda nervous about getting baptized in my middle years. It feels overdue. I feel like a bride wearing red.”
“Everyone is different, but I guess it’s normal to feel strange. This kind of thing doesn’t pop up every year the way birthdays do, but obviously it’s like a birth. You are pretty much washing away your sin … you know, it’s symbolic, but the change can feel like spiritual butterflies or waiting for your first ever date to show up at your door,” replied Deacon Jarvis.
“Jarvis, this has gotta work. I mean, I go to that church and listen to everything like I’m in grade school … and I feel just that way. I’m almost fifty years old. I think I’m learning all this stuff because there will be test. Come on, Jarvis. I don’t want to fail it, and that’s why part of me doesn’t even want to go through with it. I’m used to ignoring things to escape some sort of duty. It feels like I signing up for the army.”
Deacon Jarvis paused and nodded his head in agreement.
“Oh, you are signing up for the army, Frank. I’m no preacher, but I can tell you this … and be real serious about it, too. Normally there is no fighting – at least not in our country – but you are very right about that. See, you will be expected to live a new life, and you should feel new if your heart is right. Being baptized is something like getting an invisible tattoo. The change isn’t physical … it’s spiritual. Also, when you think army, you imagine war. We aren’t like ‘the world’ – or aren’t supposed to be anyway.”
“Hey. Jarvis, I really feel ….”
“Frank, I was only a teenager when I got baptized, so it was not like it is for you. Youth can make you either fearless or stupid in a tough situation, and you may fall hard into things or walk right into them, boldly. I know you ain’t fearless, and you’re too old to be stupid. So, I’ll just have to say this one thing, and pray you’ve learned enough about God at your church. If you want to be a Christian, this is one of the ways to show that you are serious about it. Baptism will prove that you are willing to be obedient to God, but like most things where He is concerned, you won’t be forced to do it.”
The Deacon allowed Frank an awkward pause, which he used to finish his advice.
“Just think about this every time it scares you to death, and you think that you don’t want to do it anymore. Jesus Himself says in Matthew 28:20, at the end of the verse, “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” He said that to the disciples after some of them had doubted Him, and just before telling them to teach all nations and baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Read that. Think about it up until the point it happens … up until the very second you are dunked if you have to.”
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