You are being baptized this Sunday. Wow. I come to this event with so many feelings. Mom and I are so proud of you, but not just because you are being baptized. We’re grateful because we couldn’t have asked or planned a better journey to your decision. You made this decision on your own – in your 8 year old way.
Mom and I feel we were baptized when we were 8 years old for not the best of reasons. Other people were doing it. We wanted to take the bread and grape juice at church. We knew it would make others proud. Because of this, we didn’t want to put any pressure on you.
With the reunions and camps we go to each summer, however, we knew you’d see others be baptized. So, we began teaching you the things we wanted you to know if you asked about it. We wanted you to know who Jesus was and what following him meant. We talked to you about sitting in church more, and not going to the play room. We told you, following Jesus meant being friends with some of the kids you didn’t like at school, or with those other kids picked on and didn’t have many friends. Mom remembers one conversation with you when you began to cry, “But I can’t do that! I don’t want to be _____’s friend! He’s mean!” In that moment, you realized following Jesus wasn’t easy to do. It was too much for you. Mom and I let it go. Then, something happened at reunion this summer that changed things for you.
Mom and I will not forget that night in our little pop-up camper. It brought tears to our eyes. You and Kenzlee had been actively attending Kevin’s campfires at family camp all week. You guys loved campfire. One particular night, you came back from campfire and after brushing teeth came to bed. Campfire was always the last thing you did at camp before bed. That night, because I hadn’t seen you guys much that day, I asked what your favorite part of camp was that day. You and Kenzlee answered right away, almost in unison. “Campfire!” Kevin Henrickson was doing a wonderful job with campfire that week.
Then, you began to tell us your simple testimony.
During campfire that night, you said felt something touch your heart. You were singing songs, looking into the campfire, and you said, “I felt Jesus in my heart.” You then blurted, “I just want to get baptized right now!” Mom and I listened. The feeling we felt with you in the silence after was hard to describe. You just said, “I just felt Jesus in my heart.” We knew it was special because when we taught you about Jesus, we didn’t talk about your relationship with Jesus in those terms. We taught you the stories. We shared our love for Jesus. But, tonight, you felt something in a way that lit your face and changed your heart. Mom and I were touched so deeply and in ways we didn’t expect. We began to remember the first time we felt the Spirit, when we felt something bigger than ourselves in and around us. We remembered what it was like to feel Jesus for the first time…to feel Jesus and his love in us.
After you were born, I remembered the nights I often prayed for you in college. For some reason, I was worried about the future at that time in my life. I prayed for you, the companion I had yet to meet, and the children I might have some day. I prayed with such earnestness and would do so from time to time. I remember, I prayed one thing more than anything else for my children – that they would have a relationship with God, the God I knew and changed my life.
I think you are on that road. I can only praise the God of life and proclaim my belief that something, somewhere, profound, wonderful, real, and beyond all knowledge is present and real. I call that God. When that God is with us, it is Jesus.