I’ve never been a Baptist, but I do love a good baptism. Christenings are heartwarming and unifying, but there’s something I relish about hearing people who have made their own choice describe their journey and their commitment to Christ, then watching them willingly “take the plunge” before witnesses. In fact, I’ll admit I need to see this on a regular basis.
My favorite kind of baptism is the kind where multiple people are baptized in one service, people in many different stages of life who have been on dramatically different roads. I saw my children baptized in this kind of service. I love hearing these varied souls bear witness to what God has done in them. Hearing the gospel described by children and by adults. By people who have walked the narrow road and by people who have wandered the wide path and barely lived to tell about it. By people who have just started down the path, armed with an understanding of the gospel that is simpler than it will be in forty years—when it will be much, much deeper. Knowing that some of them have picked up jagged scars along the way, only to discover that life really is empty without Jesus.
I’ve been in the church my whole life. I attended public schools, but I got my bachelor’s degree from a Christian college. I have spent more than 20 years working in Christian publishing, and most of my writing is aimed at people in the church. Most of my coaching clients call themselves Christians, and most of my friends do too. Like most people, I have everyday interactions with people who believe all kinds of things, including people who are seeking spiritual answers. But I rarely get deeply involved in the life of a person who is undergoing dramatic spiritual transformation. I’ll confess it’s easy for me to get lost in my own story and forget God still does this kind of work in people. Most of the stories I hear are about refinement—the slower changes that God’s Spirit works in us over time.
That’s why other people’s baptisms are very good for my faith. They provide evidence of God’s active presence in people and our need for radical change. They remind me of the joy I can access but so often take for granted. They cause me to think about where I would be on my own. They are vulnerable celebrations of utterly undeserved grace.
That grace is our richest source of meaning in life. And regardless of the fact that we cannot see grace clearly or completely in this life, anyone who has come in relationship with Jesus has been, and continues to be, utterly transformed by it. Because of grace, we know circumstances can change. We know people can too! No one is truly stuck or beyond hope. We don’t always get what we really deserve, and sometimes we get more than we wished for. Prayers are answered and dreams come true. Habits are broken, relationships are restored. People learn to live with loss and broken hearts start beating smoothly again. The spiritually blind gain sight, and the lost are found.
It’s easy to grow weary in this world of wreckage, picking our way through the broken glass of wishes and dreams, flinching at the sound of bursting bubbles. And when we acknowledge we won’t find complete satisfaction in this context, discouragement can convince us we are stuck. When we give up the pursuit of total satisfaction, it might be tempting to believe we must give up a life of meaning and purpose. But God sings over us, composing an irrepressible song of delight and hope and invitation to long for what is better. He does not abandon us to what we are, and as we keep our eyes on this everlasting hope of transformation, we can find meaning in both its realization and its potential.
This post was excerpted from chapter 5 of my new book, Blessed Are the Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World. If you want to read more, you can find the book here or wherever you buy books.
Taken from Blessed Are the Unsatisfied by Amy Simpson. Copyright(c) 2018 by Amy Simpson. Used by permission from InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com.
© 2018 Amy Simpson.