Revelations and Baptism
The first year after being born again was full of amazing and astounding changes, lessons and revelations. One of the pastors at my church says, “the Lord will take us just the way we are, but he doesn’t want us to stay that way.” This is so true. From the minute I was saved, my life began to change. Being freed from alcohol was a huge change. But there were equally important small changes as well.
In the beginning of my new life, I didn’t fully understand things like sanctification or how to hear the voice of God. I made it my mission to find out as much as I could about the Lord. I didn’t just want to believe in Him, I wanted to know Him. I devoured the Bible in 6 months. The first time I read the Bible, I was amazed to discover so many lessons I had learned in my life time from the secular world had their origins in the Bible. I wondered how many people in the world are walking around being taught Biblical lessons without even realizing what they were being taught.
When I learned about baptism and what it truly stood for, I couldn’t wait to be baptized. I had already been baptized as an infant, but learned that practice has no Biblical origin. Baptism symbolizes the death and resurrection of Christ. When we are baptized, we are being submersed into a watery grave, our old life is dying. When we come up out of the water, we are rising from the dead into a new life in Jesus Christ. Every week I anticipated the announcement of a baptism. Our church does beach baptisms. Finally after 6 months, the first baptism of the year was offered. I was baptized on May 15, 2006.
The week leading up to my baptism was amazing. I had many revelations about my life and what it means to be born again. I woke up 5 days before the baptism with the strongest sense that the time had come to quit smoking. I remember praying to God the way I had when I stopped drinking. I told Him that giving up alcohol was a walk in the park next to even thinking about not smoking anymore. I was a smoker for 28 years. I told Him I would have to rely completely on Him for deliverance from this addiction and I was determined to do it with His help. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever lived through. I had all the anxiety I experienced when I stopped drinking and more. It lasted for days. Finally, by the day of my baptism, I felt better. I had turned the corner to becoming a nonsmoker.
That same week, I realized just what Jesus Christ died for as well. He took our place for huge sins such as murder, rape and torture. He also took our place for stupid little sins like lying and cheating. Somehow, I felt more sad at thinking about Him dying for stupid little sins. Of course, God sees all sin as equally bad and in the end we all deserve the penalty, which is death. I was more grateful than ever for the atonement of Christ.
The day of the baptism came with beautiful sunny blue skies. I was so excited. I invited my friends Karla and Leah and my boys to witness the event. There were hundreds of people present that day, it was truly amazing. I got into a group to be baptized and listened as an elder spoke about the meaning of baptism and then I got in line to wait for my turn. I got into the water with 2 elders from the church and shared a brief description of my story with them and cried tears of joy and gratitude. Then I went into the water, my old life dying and came up a new person in Christ! It was an awesome day!
After the baptism I had two revelations that really had me thinking. It suddenly occurred to me that I quit smoking just 5 days before being baptized. I hadn’t thought about the timing until after I was baptized. I realized it was no coincidence. In God’s perfect timing, He gave me the strength to give up my last stronghold and allow it to be laid to rest along with my symbolic “death”. I felt stunned.
The other revelation I had is more obscure and remains open for debate in my own mind. I was thinking about baptism representing the death of my old life and the birth of my new life in Christ when suddenly I remembered that year after my dad died. I remembered that day I woke from a nap convinced I was going to die in the month of May. I wondered then as I wonder now if I was seeing something I didn’t understand then, my symbolic death through baptism. I have no idea if this is true, it’s just something I’ve thought about.