Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Precious Privilege

A few weeks ago I had one of the dearest experiences of my life as I was able to baptize my oldest daughter, Breanna. Early in my ministry I quickly discovered that baptism was one of the most beautiful facets of my "job." And since then I've anticipated the opportunity I would hopefully have to baptize each of my own children.

On November 12th, 2011, around 5:30 in the evening, I was able to see part of that prayer answered in Breanna's response of obedience to her understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My father-in-law was in the water with us. He and my mother-in-law have had such a pivotal influence on Bre, and it was both special and appropriate that he was there to share in that experience. My father was unable to be there due to a recent knee surgery, but his presence would have been equally special and appropriate as we acknowledged the impact of godly leadership on future generations being manifest in Breanna's ten-year-old life.

As a pastor, I had been scheduled to "baptism duty" in that service, and had baptized three other individuals prior to Bre. I actually thought I was going to hold it together. As Bre entered the water, however, I immediately felt the sudden constriction of emotion take hold in my throat. With a very feeble and wobbly inflection, I introduced Bre and my father-in-law, and tried to convey the significance of this event for me and my family. As I turned to pronounce her baptism, there was little I could do to curtail the emotion. What a rich experience this was for me, my family and Breanna.

I have to admit, however, that I struggled with Bre's readiness just days before this took place. As I sat at the table with her, and asked her some questions to prepare her for her testimony, I wasn't sure if she "got it." I wrestled with letting her go through with this if she couldn't offer what I thought were - not just the right answers - but what I perceived to be genuine answers.

The truth is that I see too much of myself in Breanna. I am the oldest child in my family, like Bre, and I too wanted to do the right thing if it pleased my parents and others from whom I sought approval. I was, and am to this day at times, the master of fronting a great exterior. In my adult life I've had to confront these tendencies, realizing that much of my earlier years of faith were marked by inconsistency, insincerity, and a relationship with Christ that was largely taken for granted. I was baptized at a young age, and grew up without a clear sense of the significance that it held for me. And I was fearful of allowing Bre to continue in that same trajectory.

Through some great conversations with my wife, my dad, and some of the children's ministry staff at our church, I came to realize that Bre was making this choice to follow through in something that she understood to the ability best afforded by her ten years. Her decision was genuine, and bold to say the least. Who am I to decide that she shouldn't go through with it? Besides, would I only squelch the desire to ever attempt it again? How could I stand in her way?

My prayer is that Breanna will continue to grow daily in her understanding of the salvation she's received by the grace of God, through her faith in Jesus Christ; that she'll grow to realize the significance of a life that could only lead to spiritual death, but has been rescued by the blood of Jesus Christ; that she would grow to understand what it means to love and live for Him in every moment of every day. These are lessons that I'm still learning as a 34 year old man, 26 year follower of Christ, and pastor of 8 years. Breanna is on her own journey, and my job is to do all within my spirit-enabled abilities to shape her faith - not just through my words - but with my life.

Lord, help me to model a Christ-centered life before my wife, my children, my church and my community. Help Bre grow in her understanding of who you are, and her love for you. And move in each of my children that they would come to know you.


Eric Dunaway

Sent from my iPad

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