Faith, Life

For eternity

I baptized my older son on Sunday. His mom and I did, actually.

We belong to churches that baptize only those who confess belief. And in our branch of Christianity, administering sacraments is not limited to any special clergy class. Our interpretation of the Bible tells us that any believer can do such things as we are all part of the royal priesthood (see 1 Peter 2:9).

I’ve seen dozens of baptisms in my time as a Christian, but always from the audience. I had never baptized anyone. But at my son’s request, there his mother and I stood, in the water. My son leaned back, his back supported by our hands. And then, for a second, he was fully submerged. His eyes were closed, his face was still. His hair flowed freely.

He looked dead.

I was struck. This is what baptism is, a kind of death. We choose to leave behind a life guided entirely by what we want and what we think is right, choosing instead to turn toward God from now on, to look for him every day as a small boy looks for his father. We are imperfect; even following God, we will sometimes make harmful choices. But as we keep following God, keep seeking him out, over time we get better and better at loving as he loves.

You’ll hear Christians in my faith tradition say of this things like “put the old body to death,” or “dead to sin, alive to Christ,” or “be born again,” to describe what happens in baptism. I chafe at those secret Christian code phrases; I prefer plain language. But these sayings do directly address the death-and-life nature of baptism.

It lasted just a second. Quickly he was up, eyes open, dripping, and we all cried. Tears of joy and, at least for me, of relief. My son is now also my brother, a fellow follower of God.

I wish everybody could see what I saw.

Now I belong to Jesus,
Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone,
But for eternity.

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18 thoughts on “For eternity

  1. How wonderful! As I get older, it becomes clearer to me how important it is that faith be handed on and passed down. Each generation must pick it up afresh. Even though we stand on the shoulders of those before us, each generation must start from scratch as well. I am happy to hear that your son has made that start.

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    • I’ve done the best I can to show my sons the faith I have and the value it has in my life. But I agree with you: every generation has to find faith for themselves, and it might look different from that of the previous generation. Not only are my sons different people from me and different things might resonate with them, but the world they live in is different from the one that formed me.

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  2. Great! I really enjoyed this post. I can still remember the day that I was baptised, all those years ago. When I “took off that old coat and put on the new.”

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  3. I almost did not read this post. Then, I did. I have thought about it ever since the last words. The words to that old hymn were not part of my church experience. Yet somehow, I know the music. I could literally sit at a keyboard and play it on an organ or piano. I may do that later today. Cheers

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  4. Jim, I’ve just stumbled into your blog, looking for points of view on some old cameras. Reading a couple of posts, they ensured adding it to my feed reader. This post in particular captures the root of your entries, personal, insightful and overall joyful!
    While I don’t share your faith, can appreciate the value of it and the values you’re seeing grown on your son (I’ve recently become a father myself), I specially like that this was at his request (something I strongly resonate with), and with the persons he loves the most.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Wonderful post Jim! Congrats to your son and your family! Our baby daughter was just baptized recently and our elder daughter seven years earlier. I’m always struck by the feeling of those moments, very deep and spiritual moments, even though I admit I should try harder to be close to God. I believe in Him and always have God in my heart, but I always feel I should do more. Thanks for sharing this.

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