A set of stairs wrapped around the wings of the stage where we stood in single file obscured from view. We stood shivering in the space between the congregation and the huge tub of water on display — like a row of musical notes, our different heights climbing up and down the scale, until it dipped down to reach me, a single note at the bottom of the staff.
At eight years old, I was the youngest of those who had signed up for baptism.
Prior to that Sunday, my parents asked me repeatedly if I was sure about my decision. Between afternoon cartoons or while I munched my morning cereal, my mom would slide a question my way, making sure my decision was one of the heart and not simply a parroting of words I’d overheard in grown-up conversations.
I answered each question from a place of uncomplicated faith. I loved Jesus, and baptism was simply the next step in my friendship with Him. My parents were satisfied with my answers, and weeks later, I found myself waiting in the baptismal wings in that line of notes strung along like a love song to Jesus.
I took a deep breath when the pastors called me forward and another when they submerged my body under water. I rose up from the water appearing like the same eight-year-old I was minutes before, only imperceptibly different on the inside. After church, I ran around with a wet head looking for my church friends, while my parents wrangled my siblings.
Nothing had changed, and yet, so had everything.
I have three children of my own now, all much older than my wee self at eight. When I look back at photos of them in elementary school, I remember how young they seemed at the time. How innocent and untested. How silly and sweet. Life with eight-year-olds is a blur of color and noise and laughter. I don’t remember many deep conversations reviewing the tenets of our faith, sacramental language, or big words used to explain difficult concepts of spiritual transformation.
I remember wondering if they truly understood what baptism symbolizes when my two oldest decided to be baptized on a family trip to Israel.
Like my parents, I questioned my children for sure answers. How quickly we forget that the Holy Spirit woos the hearts of young and old alike. I’d forgotten the sincerity and simple faith of my youth, and how the Spirit is alive and at work in us at every age and stage of life. We baptized two of our children in the Jordan River, while fellow pilgrims sang hymns while waiting for their turn. I snapped photos of my kids with their wide smiles and hair dripping. I wondered what memories they would carry with them, and if this moment was one of faith defined or just another adventure on a family vacation.
When we piled back into the car after our visit, my husband called everyone’s name to be sure we were all present and accounted for. When he called my son’s name, my boy replied from the back seat, “He’s not here anymore, Dad.” To which my husband replied, “That’s right, buddy!”, as I blinked back tears.
A new child had risen out of the brackish water while I took photos and wrangled his little sister.
Nothing had changed, and yet, so had everything.
This post was originally written in March 2018 by Kimberly Coyle.
The Spirit is alive and at work in us at every age and stage of life. -@KimberlyACoyle: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
This gives me goosebumps! Oh to have the simple faith of a child. During these trying times, I have seen more children playing outside. They keep a safe distance, but they are not overly consumed by it. They find joy and laughter and a freedom that somehow eludes adults. Behold the old is gone and the new has come. Praying that I would live like the baptized believer that I am and not one who is consumed by fear. I needed this reminder this am.!
Blessings and a hedge of protection around you my friends,
Bev, I love this image of the freedom and joy that comes so naturally to children. I needed this reminder today too!
Michele Morin says
Faith is such a beautiful thing when it’s uncluttered and fearless. I can remember conducting those “interrogation” sessions with my own kids at the point of spiritual milestones. We long for a level of orthodoxy in our sweet offspring that may not even exist in our own experience, thinking that we are saving them the trouble of back pedaling or future regret–and forgetting that most of our own spiritual growth has occurred during times of struggle!
Yes, Michele! So much of my wrestling has been done from a place of unknowns, and our kids need to experience that too.
Diane Thiel says
Glory to God.. hope and grace reign. Thank you Jesus amen
Theresa Boedeker says
Lovely story. Nothing changes, and yet everything does. Let us be more like trusting children.
The sweetness of the uncomplicated faith of a child. I love that! Beautiful post!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Yes the faith of a child. What we can learn from a child is so great. The questions they sometimes ask us. The faith they have in us as Adults to look after them and take care of them. Even if we stop and think just how much our Heavenly Father takes care of us. We should all have that faith of a little child. When we see their little faces looking up into ours. With that loving smile. That would melt your heart. Oh how your Heavenly Father loves for you do the same look on to him in the same way and need him the same way that little child need you. What joy that gives your Heavenly Father. Lets become like little children again. With the Faith of a Child. Running to the Father of World God and putting our trust in him and him only. As he is the one and only true Father who truly love us all. Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx
Nancy Ruegg says
I, too, chose to be baptized while still a child, though I was nine, not eight. LOVE that response from your boy in the backseat! He may not have understood everything yet (who does?!), but that precious child understood plenty. How gracious our God is to move into the homes of our hearts even if they’re not fully cleaned, polished, and furnished yet!
Beth Williams says
Oh to capture the faith of a little child. They don’t let the world’s problems bother them. They trust that God will take care of them-& He will. It’s a shame that most of us lose that innocence as we age. We feel we must take care of & fret over things. Not so. Just hand all your worries to God. Matthew 11:28-30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Let Him handle all this COVID 19 epidemic. We must let the Holy Spirit work in us. Learn to trust Jesus just as little ones do. Don’t fret or strive-pray!
Oh yes, Learn to trust Jesus as little ones do! Amen! May many trust him through these storms we are in that normally wouldn’t even care to reach out to him and gain faith in the ONE who matters in this life! I too had goosebumps reading this Kimberly and Bev. God bless everyone! ♡