Toe No More

When I was a kid, whenever I'd go swimming, I had a particular method. I would step down onto the first step, then walk all the way around the pool. Next, I would step down onto the second step, then back out and all the way around. Then, one more time down to the third step, back out and all the way around. Finally, I'd step onto the bottom of the pool, then slowly lower myself in and under.

I don't like being cold. It makes me cranky. (My mother and I have this in common. Love you, mom!) In my little seven-year-old mind, this slow, around and around process kept me warmer for longer. Delayed the inevitable coldness you feel when you first get in the pool. Now, as an adult, I don't subscribe to this approach. I may not be the cannonball type just yet, but I definitely get in a lot faster. (If I don't, my brother throws me in...) I understand now that delaying the discomfort does not make it any easier. If anything, it makes it worse. Instead of two seconds of adjusting, you adjust back and forth between the two with each change in environment. Getting all the way in right away is a much better strategy.

When I was eight, at my very first service at Phoenix First Assembly, I got saved. Pastor Tommy preached an illustrated sermon about hell. I think it was 'To Hell and Back'. It scared the hell out of me, literally. I think I ran down to the altar to give my life to Christ, ensuring I'd never end up in that nightmarish place.

I don't think there was any change in me. I'm pretty sure the kid I was on November 7th, 1992 is the same kid I was on November 9th, 1992.

First step, but then out and around for five years.

When I was thirteen, I got baptized. It was a Wednesday night, September 17th, 1997. For some reason, I don't remember why, the youth group was in the main service with all the adults. I don't remember what was said, except that it would be the last time Pastor Tommy would baptize. I was sitting with my friends on the ramp. I turned to one of them and said, 'Ya know, I've never gotten baptized.'

'What?! You should go! Do it now!' she said.

So I went. Completely unprepared, both physically and spiritually. (I didn't have any extra clothes to change into.)

I went and got baptized. Not because the Spirit led me or something inside me told me I needed to, but because I hadn't yet, and this would be the last time the whole church was really paying attention (in my mind).

And I was the same teenager on September 18th, 1997.

Second step, then back out and around for two years.

After my freshman year of high school, I went to youth camp for the first time. The second night, I was filled with the Holy Spirit. It was amazing. I remember it vividly. Such peace and comfort and fire inside. I remember I ended up preaching for some reason, just a little short sermon/skit thing, and won the Camper of the Year award.

June 1999. By August 1999, when my sophomore year started, everything was back to normal.

Third step, then out and around.

Do you see the pattern?

I won't say that I've not been saved all this time. I truly believe that November 8th, 1992 is the day my name was written in the Lamb's Book of Life. But that is not the day my flesh died. That is not the day that I jumped into the water, never to be dry again.

I did eventually get all the way in. Two years of Lampas Youth Master's Commission. Five years of Master's Commission One/Phoenix/USA/Cornerstone. Four years in Texas. Five years on staff at Phoenix First/Dream City Church. Yet the flesh was never asked to sacrifice much, at least not for long.

I can give many examples. Countless times I immersed myself in God's Kingdom, but only for a while. Then I'd get uncomfortable or lazy or downright stubborn, and jump back out and into the world. Maybe being in the world wasn't my intention, but being in the Kingdom was too difficult. Asked too much of me. Too much effort involved. Too many things I wasn't allowed to do.

The past few months have been a time of crazy growth in my walk with God. The old man has been dying. The new man is thriving.

With that, either because of or in spite of, a lot of other things have changed. My job, my church, my friends. I've changed. I'm not the same person I was twenty-five years ago when I got saved. Nor twenty years ago when I got baptized. In a lot of ways, I'm not the same person I was six months ago.

A few months ago, I had a thought. 'I should get baptized again.' Weird, my flesh responded, followed by a veritable slew of reasons not to.

  • You're too old
  • You've been saved for too long
  • People will think you haven't been saved all this time
  • Etc.
  •    Etc.

My church has a baptism class. A prerequisite for getting baptized. They want to make sure you really understand what's going on. So I signed up. It got canceled. But, never fear! They sent the sermon my pastor preached seven years ago called 'Buried Alive'. I watched it. Took notes. Cried.

Then, this past Sunday, on April 29th, 2018, I got baptized again. The fears tried to pull me back, but I jumped in. Okay, I didn't jump, I climbed down the ladder, but you know what I mean.

I had to give a reason, which they announced for everyone there to hear:

"Beth is getting baptized today because
her faith is deeper now than ever before.
She's done tiptoeing in the water,
and she's going in all the way."

The water was cold. (If you can read lips, you can actually see me say that...)

The fears tried to stop me.

But it was worth it.

I'm different today than I was before.


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