Overcoming the Fears Associated With Baptism
“I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” Psalm 22:22
There’s something heavenly to me about hiking on a beautiful day. Being unplugged, outdoors enjoying our Creator’s handiwork…there’s just nothing quite like it. The sweat, the burn in my legs, the buzzing flies, and even the mosquitos are all worth the feeling of accomplishment when I finally reach the top of a peak and take in the majestic view.
There’s only one problem. I have an irrational fear of heights. And I’m not talking about the kind of fear that just makes me a little nervous. Given the right situation (or maybe I should say the wrong situation), I’m talking about a full-blown panic attack.
I do fine when I look down and still see earth beneath me, but if the trail becomes obscure and I have to climb boulders or the side of a cliff where I can see a steep drop-off, the panic begins. My palms sweat, my knees shake, I start to hyperventilate, and then the tears come. I hate the tears.
Of course, this has only happened when I’m hiking with my family. If I were on my own, I would choose an easier course and likely never push myself to the point of a mental “episode”. But, it just so happens that no one in my family shares my paranoia. In fact, I have one son who is every bit a daredevil, invoking a completely different type of rational fear in the heart of his mother. He’s surely given me more gray hairs than the other three kids combined!
If it weren’t for him and the others, though, I would have missed so many mountaintops. If I didn’t have their helping hands and encouraging words guiding me through each move, I’d have sat there, embarrassed, in a puddle of my own disappointment. And I’d have lost so much more than just the view.
One of my roles on staff at College Park is to assist with the baptisms. It’s a privilege I don’t take lightly, as baptism is one of two ordinances commanded by our Lord. (Matthew 28:18-20) Very simply put, baptism is an outward expression of our inward confession, and every believer is called to do it.
Baptism services are some of the most powerful and treasured times we share as a church family. This is the time each believer in Christ gets to share their personal story of redemption – how they were brought from darkness to light by the blood of Jesus. Following each testimony is a covenantal statement of commitment to live, to the best of their ability, in obedience to God’s Word. It’s sacred. It’s intimate. And it can be very intimidating.
Much like that feeling I get when the climb turns eerily steep, fears associated with being baptized have also caused immobilization in some. It’s understandable. We have a large crowd on Sunday mornings for those who are afraid of public speaking. Even business professionals who are well versed in speaking to an audience have expressed their jitters while backstage waiting for their turn to share. The lights and cameras and stage can all be overwhelming. Some are afraid of the water itself. Others, like me, hate the tears that make their testimonies harder to give.
Just like hiking, being baptized takes determination, hard work, and helping hands to get to the “peak” – that glorious moment when, through obedience, you know that God is well pleased with His child. And, while that is the ultimate purpose, the ripple effect of your obedience creates a stunning view for those who observe it.
When God is exalted verbally through your personal testimony of surrender, fellow believers are reminded to rehearse their own testimonies of God’s faithfulness and they are re-ignited. Your vulnerability creates an inviting atmosphere for others to be honest about their own position with Christ. Likewise, the presence of the Spirit is undeniable in the acts of obedience that follow your lead.
So, let’s do the hard work together. We’re here for you every step of the way. And, friend, let me tell you, the view at the top is indescribable!