Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water

So the SAP nailed a proclamation to the church doors today. Known in the trade as The Great Commission, it read: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Actually, no. This is 21st Century evangelism after all. No nails on wood here (well, unless, you know, we’re talking about those nails). It was more of a digital nail. Driven through a Facebook Group Post. The gist being: ‘Summer’s here. Daylight saving. And if you fancy the other sort of saving, get yourself to the Wonie River because the water’s warm and I’m going to host an outdoor baptism in a few weeks. Bit of preaching. BBQ. Music. BYO swimmers and sunscreen.’ 

I have to admit, it stopped me in my tracks. All important, deadline-driven work fled my mind. I think I pushed back my wheelie-chair so fast from the desk I burnt rubber on the carpet. And not in the rush to grab my swimmers and towel.

I always loved hearing about John the Baptist at school. Struck me as a cool job, hanging out in the water all day. Eating honey and locusts not as much. Yet something about submersion always fascinated me as a child, and not through any push from my parents. My father is a non-swimmer and my mum hated getting her face wet, even in the shower. So perhaps it was John in RE who sparked my gaining a BSAC Dive Leader qualification?

Yet today? Adult immersion baptism is a long way from the vicar dribbling water on my head during my May 1972 Christening. It had little relevance to me then because I can’t remember a thing about it, or even what it meant. Adult immersion means a conscious-choice. Matthew records the words above as the final explicit instructions of Jesus before he ascended to heaven. It’s part of the SAP’s ultimate job description:

  • Teach the gospel
  • Introduce people to Jesus (make disciples)
  • Baptise them
  • Help and teach them to follow the words of Jesus

So, if I look at this a bit like a sales funnel (sorry, SAP, old habits), then I’ve been introduced, taught some, and helped. One more step needed. Into a river.

Honestly, my limbic brain has been in fight and flight overdrive all afternoon. Prayers for guidance consisted of mainly, “Really?” and then, “Really, really?” as my brain and heart stuttered. One kind friend gently told me that the water would still be warm in six months, and this was not a race. Very true. But having been chased by the hound of heaven, there is an air of impatience when God talks to me. A strong sense of: He chased me down long enough, He loves me dearly, but there’s work to be done so, please hurry up and get with the program.

God still has a massive sense of humour though. Only yesterday I mentioned that perhaps inspiration was a bit dry when it came to these blog posts. Be careful what you wish for, Phil!

As has been the pattern on this journey, the Big T delivered his usual brand of evangelism. After reading the Facebook post I thrust at him, his initial response was, ‘Holy F*#^, Phil’. Then he commented I was wearing socks.

Socks? I’m asking for supportive husband advice and he refers to my socks? Then the light dawns. When we first met, I wore Reeboks. It became our relationship metaphor for my fear of emotional dependence. Fight or flight. Run away fast. Survival.

“This is your decision alone,” he tells me. “But you’ve thrown out those Reeboks. And I know this step for you is a big as the one you took when you chose to marry me. I think you know you’ll do it, deep down. Doesn’t matter how much research you do to figure it out. But, you being you, will need some time for it to settle in your heart.”

My Mom always described Big T as the perfect man for me. Tonight he gave another example of how perfect.

So too did God. In the middle of limbic lunacy, I sat on the bed, grabbed my Bible, closed my eyes and repeated that eloquent prayer: “Really? Really really?” And flung open the pages.

To Acts 22:16. The first seven words leapt out as if printed superbold and underlined: And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.

Of all the pages, of all the books in the world…. where are those runes and angel cards, eh?!

At least I could use one of the best songs by The Boss in illustration.



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