Ten years ago, I took the plunge and pledged my heart, my love, and my life to Jesus. Before the thousands in attendance at my church that weekend, I made that great proclamation of faith, stating that, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, my Lord and my Savior.” Little did I know that the words that flowed so easily from my lips that day, would be words that I’d struggle to believe in the years to come.
I’m going to be brutally honest here. I got baptized when I was eight years old because I believed that Jesus was the way to heaven, and I knew I wanted to go there. I also desperately wanted to partake of the tiny cracker and sip of the grape juice that was only offered to those that had been baptized. The choice to be dunked was an easy one. Choices are easy when you’re eight.
Eight year olds think they deserve the best of everything; the best toys, the best friends, the best possible life (or at least I sure thought so). So when faced with the decision to choose Jesus, I felt it was the best option for me. It was a choice bred out of pure entitlement; the thought that I deserved heaven, and just needed to dip my head under some water to get there. What I didn’t realize at the time is how weighty and important this surrendering of yourself to Christ is.
The shift in my thinking didn’t happen until many years (and trials) later when I started to slowly understand (with the help of some awesome mentors) my standing with God. I learned that “good people” don’t actually exist. We are all bad, inherently sinful people, and according to His word, because of that sin, we are separated from God and deserving of hell. I don’t know why, but this perspective changed everything for me. My entitled, stubborn heart was filled with conviction. The proper understanding of the severity of my sin only made the price that Jesus paid on the cross an all the more expensive reality. To think that a sinless Savior suffered death on a cross on my behalf absolutely wrecks my soul. I am so underserving. And that was the beginning of my true relationship with Jesus; it all started on a night when I fell in love with the Prince of my soul.
Ten years ago, I gave Jesus my words, but it wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I sat in my floor with my tear-stained face buried in the carpet, that I gave Jesus my heart. And He began to give me one like His.
I’ve learned that baptism isn’t about how many people are there watching or finally being allowed to take communion. It’s not a choice that should be born out of fear, but out of love. It isn’t about following in the footsteps of a sibling, but following in the footsteps of a Savior. Baptism is an act of obedience, a life-surrendering, cross-carrying promise. Baptism is a blessing, but most importantly – a privilege.
Perhaps my most favorite thing about being “in Christ” is the promise found in Romans 8, which is a passage that’s been on my heart as I reflect on these last ten years, and that is the promise that for those in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation. None. Just repeat those words: no condemnation. Allow them to sink into your heart, deep into the places that the enemy’s lies have invaded. There is no condemnation for you. Not for yesterdays choices or tomorrows mistakes. If you’re in Christ, then His Spirit is at work within you, and it’s the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. What freedom, what hope. As I allow my heart to absorb these words, I am undone.
While eight year old me was grateful for the forgiveness of the seven years of sin behind me, eighteen year old me is thankful for the grace of today and the future forgiveness that is already mine. In the hardships I have walked through already, the anchor has held, and in future storms, I know the anchor will hold. What a gift eternal life is. What a blessing to be able to choose Him. Today I will. Will you join me?