Rachel's Big Day

Like anyone, my daughter Rachel is going to label several days in her life as "important" or "significant." She hopes to marry and have children so, of course, her wedding anniversary and the birthdays of her children will be huge milestones in her life. Beyond that, she will mark the dates of particular personal accomplishments, important happenings in the lives of her family and friends, and noteworthy national and international events.

Of all the dates she will remember, though, the most important in my estimation is September 1, 2006: the day, just a few months past her fifth birthday, when she invited Jesus into her heart because she understood His role as Savior and wanted to surrender her life to Him. On that day, she not only sealed her place in eternity but also set in place the foundational purpose of her life here: living to honor and glorify Him. Thus, she can look to that day throughout her whole life and know that, when judging the merits of any specific choice or action, it'll ultimately come down to the decision she made on that day to begin living for and through Jesus.

Another noteworthy date in her life will be today, July 15, 2012 - the day she chose to be baptized. Scripture clearly tells us that baptism does not save; instead, salvation comes through expressed faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord (Romans 10.9). So Rachel has been saved for almost six years. However, baptism is still a significant event in the life of a believer. First, it's a response of obedience to Christ, who tells us several times through the Gospel writers and the Apostle Paul to "believe and be baptized." Second, it's also a brave decision to openly identify oneself as a Christ-follower - to take a public stand and say, "I will live my life for Jesus, not for myself or anyone or anything else."

I've talked to both Rachel and Abigail about baptism since each chose to become a Christian, and we've attended a couple of our church's annual baptism services so they could understand the process. I've told them the truth - that, though baptism isn't required to be saved, Jesus wants us to make the public profession, and we should respond with obedience when the Spirit prompts us...as He's promised to do. But we haven't pushed because we wanted the call to come from Him, not us. And I really have trusted that He will be faithful to call each of them in His timing.

And today was His timing for Rachel, who said as part of her testimony - given with grace in front of dozens of church members and other guests this afternoon: "I want to be baptized because I had heard Pastor Gene talk about [it] a few weeks ago and I heard an announcement about it. ...I started thinking about it, and that night I just felt like I had to tell my mom that I wanted to get baptized. ...I think it was the Holy Spirit's calling because in years before when our mom asked us if we wanted to be baptized, I've been too scared... [But] I'm not scared anymore."

She has been afraid in the past. Not of immersion or even of being identified as Christ's disciple, but of speaking in public and being the center of attention, no matter how briefly. In fact, she's rather shy, which means she would not in and of herself choose to put herself "on stage." But she's been walking with Jesus for almost six years now, and she knows His voice in her heart. So she never wavered once she was sure she'd heard His call about baptism, and He took away the fear as a blessing for her obedience.

She was one of 14 - ranging in age from younger than six to older than fifty - who chose to obey the call today. Since we don't have a baptistry in the church, we gathered at the home of one of our very generous and hospitable church families and celebrated the baptisms in their pool. One of our wonderful interim pastors, Gene, opened the service with Scripture and then baptized the first couple of participants. Then our youth pastor, Bill, baptized one of the teens and, later, Doug - our newly re-hired associate pastor - had the privilege of baptizing several more, including two of his own children.

Pastor Gene opening the service

But Rachel wasn't baptized by any of the pastors. Instead, Doug had asked earlier in the week if she wanted to be baptized by my husband, Jeff, who had previously served as youth pastor at the church and is currently a supported missionary. And so - after giving her testimony as if she'd never in her life had an ounce of fear about public speaking - my precious girl had the privilege of being baptized by her own dad.

Yes, you can pull out the tissue. I sure did.

Of course, no church gathering is complete without fellowship time! So, despite the blistering heat, most folks hung around after the service, talking and enjoying the refreshments. And, of course, most of the kids - including my own - took full advantage of the pool. 

Our dear friends, Anna and Lacy, who came to help us celebrate

Rachel has been "glowing" all day today - before, during, and especially after the service - and I don't think it's her sun-kissed cheeks or my imagination. When I tucked her in tonight, I asked what she felt as she was coming out of the water, and she said she sensed God telling her a paraphrase of a verse she'd recently read during her devotions: "You are My daughter. With you, I am well-pleased."

So that joy you see on her face? I'm convinced it's the Spirit shining through in a special way on her big day. Don't you agree?

Baptism gifts: a musical Willow Tree sculpture and a charm necklace


Conny said...

What a very special day indeed - and there is no greater joy for parents than to see our kids grow in God's grace!!! Thank you for sharing Rachel's special day with us too.

Kimberly said...

That was beautiful.

geralyn said...

Congratulations to a girl with an outstanding character and moral compass. Good job, Tina!

Sharon Brown said...

Congratulations to a beautiful girl, and one who has a very tender heart for the Lord! I am so excited to see what God has for her in the years ahead. Great job as parents too!!

Stacie said...

What a wonderful, glorious thing! Believing and being baptized. . .priceless!!!
Rejoicing with you.

Anonymous said...

Praise the Lord, how wonderful! :-) {this post gave me goosebumps}

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