May 2nd, 1982.
This is the day that I was baptized into Christ. The date itself is burned into my memory because it was written in the cover of the Bible I received a week later from my church family, a cover I opened when we visited other churches to make sure the communion servers knew I was “in,” that I was able to receive communion. I was very young when I was baptized- just six years old- Which is why I was often overlooked for communion at those churches that didn’t know me. But there was a bigger problem that developed as time went by: I forgot.
It’s fascinating to me how memory works. I remember so many insignificant details of that day… I remember when my friend Aaron came up to me and said that he was getting baptized. I remember the car ride into Chicago that afternoon as my dad took advantage of me stuck in the back seat to explain everything the Bible says about baptism. I remember my pastor whispering “Be careful, it’s really cold water,” as I got in to the baptistry that evening. I remember the baptistry being a color like a shamrock shake, and then putting my foot in and feeling like I was stepping into a shamrock shake. 35 years later and I still remember those tiny details… but as time went on I forgot one enormous detail: WHY I wanted to be baptized. Later I found that Satan would forge a new memory in place of the one that was forgotten.
After some time as I looked back on my conversion I began to think that I wanted to be baptized because my friend Aaron was. Then I began thinking that it was because I wanted to be “in,” that I wanted to take communion just like the adults. If you ever wonder why Christ blessed the bread and the cup and said “eat this in remembrance of me,” it’s because forgetfulness and doubt are closely connected. For a long time I doubted, I forgot. (The story of that journey I’ll save for another time)
It’s for this reason that I offer this bit of advice- On the day that you are baptized into Christ, while it is still fresh in your mind, write yourself a letter. I know it sounds strange. Write a letter to yourself that details the WHY. Tell yourself what went through your mind as grace was revealed to you, as the gospel of Christ stirred in your heart. Because there may come a day when you forget, and you need to pull out that letter to be reminded, to be established again in your faith. I extend that same advice to parents, because you can see how your child responds to Jesus better than anyone. One day they may doubt, and there will be this document that records how they were when they responded.
I’m going to pause here and confess to you that I am not sure if this counts as a “Pastor’s blog” or a “Father’s blog,” sometimes I think those boundaries will always be blurry…
This past weekend my son responded to the call of Christ. As that day approached I began thinking of what I would write to him so that if there ever comes a time he thinks “I was too young, I didn’t know what I was doing,” or whatever other lie the devil will whisper to him, he would have something to remind him. Soon, the content of that letter presented itself to me…
Our family normally has a “No-running in the church building except the FLC” policy (I remind them of this every Sunday). This past Sunday after the sanctuary had cleared out he came running up the aisle. I was about to remind him again, but decided instead to get out my phone. I wanted to capture a video of what he was doing.
The boy was running, armed raised like a champion, jumping in victory every few steps.
Psalm 127:4 compares children to the arrows in the hand of a mighty warrior-imagery that tells of inspired confidence so one can continue in battle. To see him run, jump, all with his arms raised in victory, helped me to remember May 2nd, 1982 a little better.