We sang them to sleep with Jesus Loves Me, read them stories from the Bible, and taught them to pray. Our children have been given a heritage of faith in Jesus. But like everyone else on the planet, they have to decide what their answer is to Jesus' invitation to "Come and follow."
All of our kiddos, as toddlers and pre-schoolers, said yes to Jesus. While their confessions of faith were genuine we knew that as our children matured they would either reconfirm this decision or choose to walk away from faith in God.
Grant (age 12) and Katie (age 11) have both recently reconfirmed their decision to follow Jesus. They have established a habit of learning more about who Jesus is and what it looks like to be his follower by spending daily time with him through prayer and reading the Bible. Baptism was the next logical choice.
Why baptism? What is it? Here's a cliff notes version. Baptism is a public declaration of the commitment and love someone has for Jesus. Some churches baptize by sprinkling people with water. Our church baptizes by immersion. Here's why.
Baptism by immersion is a beautiful picture of what Jesus did for us. He died on the cross, went down into the bowels of the grave, then rose again defeating death once and for all. Baptism is also a beautiful picture of how Jesus changes people. We enter the water symbolizing the person we were before Jesus saved us - dead in our sins and without hope in this world. We go under the water to symbolize dying to ourselves. We come out of the water a picture of the new creation we are in Jesus.
Baptism is how we publicly identify that we will follow Jesus wherever He leads. We take on our new identity as HIS by following in his footsteps. Grant, Katie, and Maddy (one of Katie's best friends) all decided to get baptized together.
January 5th, 2014, was a day to remember. The kids had their own cheering section at church. Row after row of family and friends came out to show their love and support for our kids. Grant, Katie, and Maddy all bolted from their seats when the pastor gave the invitation to come and be baptized. The parents followed and we circled around our kiddos to pray for them.
Before we started praying a blur of color caught my eye. I looked up to see Grant's best friend Alden walk confidently into the prayer room. He was missile locked on getting approval to be baptized. He didn't need Grant. Alden just needed Jesus. It wrecked me (in a good way) to see how God has changed his life - how God has changed ALL of our lives.
I was overcome with emotion. This moment was a visible answer to our deepest prayer and desire we've had for our children. They were choosing Jesus - on their own terms, in their own timing - and their best friends were making the exact same choice. Could it be any more incredible?
I gave my camera to my super talented photographer friend Tom Baker so I could just soak in the joy of the moment. Our good friend and the kids' youth group pastor Nate Kupish baptized the kids. Grant went first. Then Alden, Katie, and finally Maddy.
One by one they got wet for Jesus. One by one their lives were forever changed. We hooped and hollered after each baptism. I think I was both crying and holding my breath at the same time.
I wrote later, "Tonight was incredible! Grant and Katie followed Jesus in the waters of baptism. Adding to the joy, each of their best friends also got baptized! An answer to our prayers for godly friends and kids who choose Jesus. Huge party going on!"
As the old saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Here are some of my favorite images from this unforgettable night. Thank you Tom for capturing it so beautifully.
WHOO HOO GRANT!!!!!!!!!!
WHOO HOO KATIE!!!!!!!
WHOO HOO MADDY AND ALDEN!
To God be the glory - great things He has done.