This past Sunday we celebrated Resurrection Day. We drove in the dark to the edge of an ocean isle, not to far from where we worship together every Sabbath. In the dark we joined the gathering throng and began to sing. I stood with Kiersta in my arms, feeling the softness of her round sleepy cheeks against mine. The boys sat in wonder, waiting for daybreak. Benjamin was up front playing bass setting the solid, quiet undertones that enables the music to flow.
Light floated up as if the ocean released it, soft colors the prelude to the sun. Presently, a large choir stood on the stage and sang of liberation, their arms raised and their faces radiant. “Let the worshippers arise, sing the song of the redeemed…” were the words. These were my brothers and sisters formally drug addicts, alcoholics, thieves, abusers and abusees, homeless vagabonds, the outcasts of society. The precious ones Jesus loves. The same as you. The same as me.
Now they are free. Resurrected with the same power that raised Christ from the dead. The Gospel alive and well.
Anders whispered to me, “The Spirit is moving Mama.”
Lars knew this was the dawn he would be immersed in the water; baptized as a symbol of going from death to life, filled with the Spirit of the Living God. He is our boy who contemplates, who comes up with questions I never thought to ask, who looks at something from all angles, who cannot be rushed and chooses with deliberation. After studying the Scriptures all week about baptism, he had told us this was the day. So at the last prayer, I saw him un-zipping his camo pant legs and taking off his shoes and sweatshirt.
Anders hears and believes. He knows what he wants and he’ll make it clear. Plain and simple. Matter of fact. A little man of few words unless he is being silly. He marched towards the ocean and asked me to “sign him up” because “I believe, Jesus said, and I’ll obey. That’s it.” We could not argue with the faith of a child.
I waded into the water with them and watched our son’s immersion while Benjamin took video. I stood back and let them go it alone. Something within me has always had great respect for the personal spiritual work that God does in each one of us. This was their story. Something they and their Father were doing together. These were the ones who came from my womb, now making their own declarations. I know the knowledge will continue to do its work in them as they grow. We’ll keep walking with them, pouring, modeling, teaching. And one day they’ll understand what it was like to be a bearer of life who watches the giver of life do His mysterious work.
Our lives here at the mission are spent hearing stories from all corners of the globe.
I never grow tired of listening. Of praying. Of yearning with them for the renewal of all things in all places. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is my heart’s cry.
And not a day passes without my soul craving this, without the knowledge that He makes all things new.
Because He lives.
He renovated my soul. He put in me what I do not have myself. He breathed life, hope, freedom, purpose and eternity. Every yoke of bondage was broken and destroyed. One day I will run to Him and shed the last peelings of this mortality and be more alive that I can even imagine.
This past Sunday, the stories were close. The stories of my own sons. The stories of 56 others who ran into water that day. A 92 year-old lady. Folks obviously not dressed for immersion but compelled. A husband and wife in their 60’s from the UK in our home last week, who came to Jesus just three months ago. He’s the one in the blue shirt who raised his arms, she’s the one in the pink who danced. They are glowing. I could hardly wait to hug them as they came back out, dripping wet.
They all shed the grave-clothes. We were all, through the sacrament of baptism, given a glimpse into the inner workings of the Spirit. I’m faltering for words to express the power and the beauty of that morning.
Just let me tell you, it is all true. This is what real means.