Smiling from cheek to cheek, hunched over in the red chair, elbow to knee. Surrounded by my youth group –no, they are my friends—soon to be family.
But, it didn’t start that way. I was blessed at birth to have such a wonderful family who all had such great faith in Christ. As a child, I was led through a sea of dressed up adults to the front of the stage to sit down. From there, we sat silently watching the one in the ocean blue cover up glide into the water. He or she was asked a question, dunked into the water, lifted up, and then there were cheers and a song.
I was mesmerized by this. I knew it was a good and beautiful thing, but I didn’t know what it meant. I’ve begged my parents since I was 7 to get baptized. Today, I give thanks that they had me wait. By my 11th birthday, I knew it meant more.
I waited day and night for some sort of sign, I tried my best to do the right thing, and I tried to make adjustments to myself. Read the Bible. Don’t be mean. Don’t say bad words. Be more perfect! The rest of sixth grade came and went like minutes.
Then summer was here, and I found myself in a big room…
My new friend and I are sitting together. He’s from another youth group, but we’ve become friends. All eyes are on the guest speaker, my favorite, Wiley Lowe. He’s near the end of his lesson, when he says the words that strike me. Lowe is talking in Satan’s voice, tempting us by pretending to be on our side.
“You’re not ready. You don’t read the Bible enough. You’re not smart enough or nice enough.” The voice gets lower. “God will never forgive you for the things you’ve done, you aren’t perfect enough.”
My eyes grew. I’ve been trying to make myself perfect before I go to God, but in reality, I should go to God to become perfect.
Every night we were allowed to go up on stage and fill out a prayer card. My friend went, and I soon followed and found him in the crowd. I sat in my ring of friends and put a checkmark on “I want to be baptized” on my prayer card.
All of my friends completely supported me in every way.
I kicked off my Aggie flip-flops and waded into the deep fountain. The cold water lapped around my waist. Eric Petty held me in his arms and asked me the most important question of my life, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he died for you?”
“Yes, I do.”
The water covered me, and I felt my sins wash away. I came up out of the water, shivering, and heard the cheers of my brothers and sisters. I was now part of the family. I had found peace.