I recently baptized someone for the first time. He was a young man in his 20s, with shoulder-length dreadlocks and dark brown skin. We shared a lot of similarities and now we were about to share a new one, as he made a public declaration that Jesus Christ was the Lord of his life. Upon the confession of his faith, he was turning his life around.
We were both nervous. I hadn’t been in a baptismal pool since I was baptized in the early 80’s. My pastor gave me simple instructions: raise your right hand, place your other hand behind his lower back and be ready to cover his nose and mouth when lowering him into the water. The water was warm (Thank God). There must have been a hole in my borrowed hip boots as I could feel the water dampening my legs. This was nothing compared to this young brother standing chest deep in water wearing a white shirt, shorts and tightly fitted durag over a shower cap.
I promised him it would only take three seconds. It was actually 1.5 seconds. His life changed forever and his journey to glory begins. I will never forget his face underneath the water and the pressure on my arms to lift him back into the world. There was nothing special about the water, his outfit, the screaming congregation or those hip boots. The change happened inside of him before he came to church and before I was assigned to baptize him. His new direction is my eternal reminder that the obedience of water baptism is the byproduct of spiritual renewal that no one initially sees or sometimes feel…it’s just who you are.
It’s who I am.