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Drowning

Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came to save us from our sins?
I believe

Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to bring you life and to bring you home into his kingdom?
I believe

Do you renounce Satan and his kingdom and all his evil works?
I do

And will you turn from your sins and obey Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit?
I will

Will you now lay your life down and be buried in God’s love?
I will

Last Sunday, Wyatt received baptism. One of the perks of being your boy’s pastor is that you get to participate front and center in these sacred moments. I was knee deep in the baptismal waters, my arm around his shoulders (and that’s where I hope to always be, wading into his water, standing next to him).  With joy, I laid priestly hands on my son and said holy words, In the name of the Father and the Son and the Spirit, be buried in Jesus’ death…

Baptism is many things, but three things at least – and all three are about belonging. In our baptism, we declare that we belong to Jesus and to Jesus’ kingdom. In baptism, the church declares that we belong to the community, this family of faithful storytellers. And, most importantly, in baptism the Spirit declares that we belong to the Triune God. Baptism is really more about what God is doing than about what we are doing. God has marked us, come after us, loved us to death. And life.

Because this whole thing is a communal affair, the entire community renews our baptismal vows before the new vows are taken. In a way then, with each new baptism, it is as though we are being baptized anew. The last question of the vows, the words that are spoken just before we put a body under the waters, echoes for me today.

Will you now lay your life down and be buried in God’s love?

Will I?

The verbs in this question are passive. Will I lay down? Will I be buried? Will I surrender the illusion that I can pull my life together? Baptism is something I receive, not something I do. I don’t baptize myself; another baptizes me. I don’t finagle my way into the church; the community simply gives me a wide welcome. I didn’t snag a ticket into God’s kingdom with my spit-n-shine resume. God isn’t lucky to have me. God came and got me because God is kind and because this is what God does – God comes and rescues.

So this is the question my baptism asks me: Will I lay down and drown in love? Will I drown?

Will I hold my ground and guard my self-interests in my marriage – or will I drown?

Will I wallow in selfish guilt about what my poor fathering choices say about me, or will I surrender every shred of image and reputation and just love my boys, now, today? Will I protect myself – or will I drown?

Will I keep distance from those I’m sure to disappoint or those who I think will leave me lonely – or will I drown?

I choose to drown.

I surrender the image of the put together husband, father, writer, pastor, friend.
I choose to drown.

I am probably not as smart or brilliant or witty or insightful or artful as you are.
I choose to drown.

I will probably never write a bestseller.
I choose to drown.

I want to drown. Because I want to live.

What kind of drowning are you surrendering to?

6 thoughts on “Drowning

  1. Love this… What a powerful picture.

  2. Thank you Winn for sharing this – you have been blessed with a beautiful way of expressing the heart, thanks.

  3. Kari and Travis, thank you.

  4. What a beautiful day. I love your words about every time someone is baptized "the entire community renews our baptismal vows", provocative and profound.

    The end of the post has the makings of a poem, or maybe already is one…

  5. Catching up on your blog, and I just want you to know that it brings me great joy to hear of Wyatt's baptism and your always thoughtful participation.

  6. Thanks, Jeromie.

    Austin, if you say there's a poem there, I believe you. You know something about poems.

words have a way of making friends. drop a few here.