This is the first one I posted at Facebook. Despite its being a rough draft, I got some very nice comments on it.
Child of God
Clad in a white baptismal robe, twelve-year-old Shelby stood at the top of the steps leading down into the water and listened to the soft singing of the choir and congregation coming through the arched opening of the baptistry.
I am resolved no longer to linger,When the singing ended, Shelby carefully took the steps down into the baptistry, holding onto a slanted rail along the back wall. He felt the warm water slowly envelop him. It was supposed to represent the grave -- death and burial -- subjects that were normally macabre, occasions that were usually the cause of sorrow and mourning. Today, though, the symbolism of the ritual he was about to undergo took the morbidity out of such terms. Baptism represented the death and burial not of a person, but of a life of sin, and resurrection to a new life in Christ.
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.
I am resolved to enter the kingdom
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.
I am resolved, and who will go with me?
Come, friends, without delay,
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
We’ll walk the heav’nly way.
I will hasten to Him,
Hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest,
I will come to Thee.
When he reached the bottom step, he put his hand in the outstretched hand of Pastor Jordan, who was standing in the water waiting for him. Together they walked to the middle of the baptistry and the pastor turned to stand perpendicular to Shelby, whose eyes were fastened solemnly on the pastor's face.
"Shelby, you have been raised by Christian parents in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Now, at twelve years of age -- the same age as Our Lord when He reasoned with the elders in the Temple -- you have reached the age of accountability. You have acknowledged the need of salvation from the consequences of sin in your earthly life, and the Lord has worked repentance in your heart. Shelby, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that He came to earth as a human being, died for our sins on the cross of Calvary, and was raised so that we might have eternal life?"
Shelby was still gazing intently and solemnly at the pastor, and concentrating on every word. "Yes, sir, I believe."
"Then upon the spoken confession of the faith in your heart, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
The pastor put his left hand on Shelby's upper back, between his shoulders. In his other, he held a folded handkerchief, and he poised his hand several inches from Shelby's face. He said softly, "Do you remember what to do?"
Shelby nodded. He took the pastor's forearm in both his hands and inhaled deeply. The pastor pressed the handkerchief against Shelby's nose and mouth and tilted him back into the water until he was completely submerged. Immediately, he lifted Shelby upright, and removed the handkerchief from Shelby's face.
The new babe in Christ blinked rapidly and wiped the water dripping into his eyes. He looked up at the pastor again and smiled broadly, the solemnity giving way to gladness. The pastor smiled back and then bowed his head. Shelby and the congregation followed suit.
"Our Father in Heaven," Pastor Jordan began, "we come to Thy throne now to thank Thee for the power of the gospel of Christ to save. We know there is rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents, and we believe there is rejoicing in Heaven at this moment over this, Thy child, Shelby Kincaid, who has come to Thee today. Keep him always in Thy care, Father, and may his life be joyously spent in Thy service. In the name of Thy Son and Our Savior, Jesus...Amen."
The singing began again as Shelby and Pastor Jordan made their way up the steps and into the changing rooms adjacent to the baptistry. Even back here, Shelby could faintly hear the music.
Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,He had chosen the hymns for his baptism, which was both a joyful and solemn occasion. The hymns he chose weren't usually used for baptisms. He had selected them partly because he had always liked them, even when he was so small the words had no meaning for him, and partly because they captured the power, the joy and the comfort that characterized his personal religious beliefs. Shelby had never been a gloom-and-doom believer.
Trying to follow our Savior and King;
Shaping our lives by His blessèd example,
Happy, how happy, the songs that we bring.
Pressing more closely to Him Who is leading,
When we are tempted to turn from the way;
Trusting the arm that is strong to defend us,
Happy, how happy, our praises each day.
Walking in footsteps of gentle forbearance,
Footsteps of faithfulness, mercy, and love,
Looking to Him for the grace freely promised,
Happy, how happy, our journey above.
Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Upward, still upward, we follow our Guide;
When we shall see Him, the King in His beauty,
Happy, how happy, our place at His side.
How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Stepping in the light, stepping in the light,
How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Led in paths of light.
There was a knock on the door of the changing room, and he heard his father's voice. "Shelby?"
"Be out in a second."
He hurriedly peeled off the wet baptismal robe, dried off, dressed quickly and spent a few moments toweling his hair. He left the robe and towels hanging on wall pegs as he'd been instructed and then stepped to the door. Except for his wet hair, he looked exactly as he did when he went in to change no more than fifteen minutes before. In fact, he was quite changed, although all the ways he was changed would take years to gradually manifest themselves as both he and his faith matured.
In a larger room that opened both to the sanctuary and to the outdoors, Kurt was waiting. He went to Shelby and gave him an emotional embrace. "You've made your mother and I very happy today, son."
There were many other hugs, handshakes and backslaps when services were over and Kurt Kincaid and his son stepped back into the sanctuary. The family gradually made their way to the exit where they would go to their car and drive to a restaurant for a special meal with Shelby. Just before exiting, Shelby caught the eye of his two best friends across the auditorium and they both gave him a discreet thumbs-up. They would get together to talk about Shelby's experience later.
I Am Resolved – Palmer Hartsough – Copyright: Public Domain
Stepping in the Light – Eliza E. Hewitt – Copyright: Public Domain