God Did It His Way
Instead of doing it my way!
My wife and I have been blessed with two children whom we enjoy very much. For years now I have had this dream, or plan, that I would be the one baptizing them when they chose to accept Christ. I could see it in my mind's eye taking them through the routine that shows their commitment and asks their neighbors and friends for support in their new direction in life.
Well, they were both baptized on Sunday evening, March 10th in 2002. Not only was I not the one with the honor of being used in the baptism, I didn't even get to see the event. I had brought a camera so that I could take pictures, and I was in the building at the time, but I was in another room.
I didn't get my way at all, but let me tell you why this way was so much better than what I had envisioned. So here's what happened, and we need to start this with the events two days before, on Friday, March 8th.
That evening we attended a "Power Team" presentation (their website is at www.thepowerteam.com) with our Sunday School class and had a great time. I have never seen so many bricks shattered except when I was helping rebuild a Ford plant (in Norfolk, VA) and got to watch the wrecking crews empty half of the assembly line while we were modifying the other half.
When they were finishing up with an altar call, both my children, as well as dozens of other people went forward. My son went on his own, and my daughter wanted an adult she trusted to go with her, so she picked my Sunday School teacher! Then she asked me to join them, and I did.
Both my children had accepted Christ before, but this time they were going forward to commit to baptism. They both chose to come back on Sunday evening, March 10th to be baptized by the Power Team leader. No, not by me, nor by our church pastor, not even at our church.
My wife and I struggled with this. Not because it wasn't "by the book". My son had already attended the "pre-baptism" classes at our church, and my daughter had not. We were not convinced that the decisions they were making were quality decisions, we wondered how much of what they were doing was an 'emotional' reaction to a very emotionally charged evening.
After prayer, we decided to move forward despite our doubts and plans. Oh, I forgot to mention. We had already planned to have our son baptized during the Easter break in April, as we had his paternal grandparents coming in for the week, and they would want to be a part of that special day.
When two of their cousins learned that we were going back to the show on Sunday evening, they wanted to come along. We have often taken them to church on Sundays when their parents asked us, so they were very comfortable with us. So, we went to church that night with a camera, two children and two nieces. We were told to take our children to the baptismal at the altar call, so we planned to have one adult go with them, and the other stay in the sanctuary with the two nieces to observe the baptism.
Well, wouldn't you know it. God had another plan, despite all the ones that we had made.
Our two nieces went forward at the altar call, and wanted me to walk up there with them. That messed up my plans! I had to go to the back room with them, as they were too young to go on their own. I sat through the gospel presentation given by the counselor (and her younger trainee) along with my nieces, and heard them say they wanted to give their hearts to Jesus. Because of the paperwork, and the desire on everyone's part to help them understand as much as possible what they were doing, it took long enough for me to not make it back for my own children's baptism. I missed what I had come for, I missed what I had prayed for, I didn't get to share with my children something special in their life. Or did I?
Oh, my wife almost missed the baptism, too. Once she helped them get ready, she had to go down the hallway to get back into the sanctuary. Of course, there was one of the Power Team, at 6 foot tall, over 300 pounds saying to her, "I'm sorry ma'am, but they just started the baptisms." Well, he may have had more than double her body weight, but when she looked him in the eye and said, "My children are getting baptized in there" he knew not to resist when she pushed him aside! Boy, do I wish I had seen that, too!
While waiting for me afterwards, my children picked up some souvenirs from the sanctuary. Remains of bricks that caught their attention because they resembled the stone tablets that Charlton Heston used is the movie "Moses" for the 10 Commandments. They were blank, and my children were talking about how they could put something on them when we got together for the ride home.
That's when my children learned that I had not taken any pictures, and in fact, had not even been in the audience as their mother and maternal grandparents were. I told them that I was sad I had missed a very important event in their life, but I had attended something else that was very important in God's eyes. I could hear the sadness in their voices, until I told them about their cousins' decisions, and my children's sadness turned to awe. Not just excitement, but awe.
We spoke about those blank bricks, and about God's new covenant as shown in Jeremiah 31. How we could leave those bricks blank, to remember the new covenant they had just entered, on March 10th, 2002 which was written not in stone, but on their hearts. We also spoke how the picture of that covenant is not on paper nor on film, but also in the hearts of all involved. Maybe we don't need a picture. We talked about how I didn't get to do what I wanted, but I got to do what God wanted me to do, and how that was going to happen in their lives more and more as time goes by.
Well, come to think of it, maybe I did get what I wanted, just not in the way that I wanted. And I got more, as did my children, and their two cousins.