It’s fun to watch the expressions on people’s faces when I tell them I’ve been baptized three times.
I’m a little slow, and it takes me time to get things right. Thankfully, God is patient with me. Kind people around me are, too. Perhaps the story of my three baptisms might help you along on your faith journey.
My first baptism came when I was six weeks old. Some churches call it a “christening.” Google says christening is the old-fashioned name, so I guess that makes me old-fashioned. It seems the word old is coming up more and more lately in connection with me.
Christening is also associated with naming a child. In the days of high infant mortality, tradition required families to wait several weeks or months before christening a child to be sure he was going to live. When I was christened, two things happened: I was “officially” named Lori Ann Slice, and my parents stood before the church and promised they would raise me in the faith.
My second baptism came as a result of walking down an aisle at a church when I was 16 years old. Visiting a church that was very different from the one I had grown up in, I was desperately trying to find a similarity. At the end of the service, I found one. I noticed that people went down to the front, kneeled at the altar, and prayed.
This was familiar to me, because in my church, at the end of a mass, a person could go to the altar, put coins in a box, light a candle, and say a prayer. Because I really wanted to fit in, I decided if people went down to the altar to pray at the next service, I would go down, too.
I had no idea what it meant when someone, especially a visitor, came forward at the end of the service in an evangelical church, but I quickly found out. Some well-meaning, soul-winning lady ran me down the Roman Road, I had an emotional experience, we cried, and before I knew it, I was “saved.” Wow. That was way more than I bargained for.
My second baptism followed shortly thereafter.
It took two more years of sound Bible teaching for God to peel back the layers of confusion, wrong theology, and self-sufficiency that hindered me. Two more years of living my life my way didn’t hurt the progress of my redemption, either.
To the casual observer, I had everything going for me—a steady boyfriend, a full-tuition scholarship to the college of my choice, and the #4 spot in in my graduating class. I had the world by the tail, yet I was miserable. I was empty inside. Frightened about the future, guilty about the past, and longing for something more than what I saw in front of me, I’d wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and sob. I was making decisions that would impact my life forever, yet I had no Source of wisdom.
Distraught and needy, I found myself in my pastor’s office. The same pastor who had presented me to the church, dunked me beneath the baptismal waters, and taught me every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night.
“I’ve been living my life my way, and I’m not doing a very good job of it,” I said, while silent tears left shiny trails down my face. “I need someone bigger and wiser than me to run my life. I don’t want to be in charge anymore.” I confessed my sins and heard my pastor say those glorious words of emancipation from 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I was forgiven and cleansed.
I left my pastor’s office a changed person. Second Corinthians 5:17 was true. I was a new creation, changed from the inside out. I broke off a relationship I knew didn’t honor God. I started wanting to go to church for the right reasons. I had a new desire to study God’s Word. Best of all, when I sinned, it bothered me—further evidence that the Holy Spirit was living inside me. I wanted to obey whatever God told me to do.
And what was one of the first things God told me to do? Get baptized.
“But Lord,” I argued, (Can anyone say But and Lord in the same sentence?) “I’ve already been baptized—TWICE! What will people think?”
Baptism is an outward testimony of an inward transformation, the still, small voice of God whispered to my heart. It’s the first step of obedience for a disciple of Christ.
It made sense, because, for the first time in my life, I knew for sure I was a disciple.
So I said no to the insecurity that said I can’t do this in front of people. I said no to the pride that said What will people think? I said no to the disobedience that said I really don’t want to stand up in front of people for the THIRD time.
And I said yes to baptism. Again.
Down into the baptismal waters I went. The old adage says, “Third time’s a charm,” but for the first time, my baptism was a glorious testimony that I had placed my faith in Christ alone for my salvation.
That was thirty years ago, and I’ve never looked back.
“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).
What “hard” thing has Christ called you to do to demonstrate your obedience to him? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below and join the conversation.
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