I had no idea that my baptism would be on the week of my return! Funnily enough, I didn't actually personally want to get baptized. It wasn't something I was thinking about or something I felt called to do. It was actually something that terrified me! I had already been baptized as a baby so it never once crossed my mind that I needed to do it again.
On 17th May I was praying to God and on this particular day I was feeling extremely frustrated about myself. I'm not exactly the most patient person in the world and I found myself anaylsing my progress this year. I think it is so easy to get caught up in what you haven't become yet and my perspective was consumed by this on that day. So I was praying and Jesus spoke to me, this was what our conversation looked like:
Jesus said, "I want you to get baptized, make it a public declaration, share it with your church and celebrate! You have been hiding yourself away in Church. I have to ask you, are you willing to let go of yourself and take hold of me?" His words burned through me. I could feel the power in those words of truth. Yet this was my answer:
"But Lord I am afraid of going underwater!" You see I have always had a fear since I was a child of going underwater. Whenever I would go swimming, I would strain and to keep my head above the water. I would flinch if water was splashed in my direction. I would stare at other kids who dive into the water without any fear. I was afraid and I had never got over it. So Jesus said to me:
"Well thats a good place to start! Will you obey me?" Now this was not said in a commanding, 'You have to do this' way. His words were quiet, gentle but solid. My mind is usually running at a hundred miles an hour but when He speaks there is such a silence. I can only hear His voice, it radiates peace, it radiates safety. So I knew what my answer was going to be. I said "Yes", but it didn't mean that the fear went away, the fear remained but now I had the choice to overcome it.
The day of my baptism came, 3rd July 2016. As we pulled up outside the church I saw a lot of cars and thought, "Yay"... This was definitely going to be a public declaration. I had written down what I wanted to say as I didn't feel I could say something spontaneously. I sat at the very back of the church, holding my piece paper tightly in my hand and struggling to focus on my surroundings. Three other people were also getting baptized.
When I got up to speak, my hands were shaking and I could not look anyone in the eye. My voice sounded strange as it came out of the microphone. So I focused on what I was saying and as I began to speak courage started to rise in me. This was what I wrote:
Jesus came into my life at a time when I had no hope…a time where sickness, fear, darkness and death prevailed. In the short time that I have known Him, he has picked me up from the mess I was in and stood me on my feet. He has declared restoration in my life and healing even stretching back over generations. How can I even begin to share all that He has done for me? I once was sick, fatherless and afraid. I am now healed, I have two fathers in my life and have been shown fear for what it really is! He has done all this for me and more but more importantly He has shown me love and forgiveness
He has asked me to get baptized and so I am here! He is asking me to go deeper and fully let go. I’ve been hanging on, there was so much mess in my life and He has cleaned it up and now He wants my full surrender. His words were, “Are you willing to let go of yourself and take hold of me?” But you will laugh because I have a fear of going underwater!!! I said but Lord I am afraid of going underwater and he said, "Well that's a good place to start!" He said, "Will you obey me?" and I said YES (even though I am really afraid!!) but I trust Him.
After an incredible piece of scripture from Frances about my writing I went up to the baptismal pool. Even though I felt so uncomfortable and afraid I couldn't help smiling. Diane, who I had chosen, was in the pool with me and Rob who was going to baptize me. The main thing I was worried about was whether I would stop them from baptizing me. My whole life I have never let anyone put me underwater, not even Jason! I've always delayed it and then stopped. As I stood between Rob and Diane though I felt a heavenly peace, a peace that pressed down on me. So that when they gently tilted me back into the water I felt no strength inside me to struggle...I let go... As the water came around time felt like it slowed down and I felt like I was under the water for ages. I then realized that I had been so focused on getting under the water that I forgot to hold my breath. I felt bubbles rising to the surface from my mouth and then as I came up I couldn't breathe. I starting choking uncontrollably. It took me a few minutes to catch my breath. It was as though He took my breath away!! Yet I never felt afraid of that and after I recovered my breathing I felt such a joy! As though a heavy weight had been lifted from me. I think the picture below radiates that joy. I laughed about me choking and forgetting to breathe and just felt so much freedom...