A Baptismal Story

I was prompted to think about this by a post over at Keith Lancaster’s blog. He asked readers to share stories about “baptizing time”. As a father of four children whom I have had the joyous privilege of baptizing, these memories are certainly the most precious. Each was special for different reasons. 398203175irrfqw_ph.jpgMy youngest was baptized near the conclusion of a week at Bible camp. My wife and I received word that she wished to be baptized late on a Friday night. Upon our arrival at the camp early on a Saturday morning at about 1:00 a.m., I was thrilled to baptize that last of our four children. Please know that the baptism of each child remains special, as each one continues to live by the Spirit and walk with the Lord.

There have also been some humorous baptismal events. One in particular comes to mind. I’m not a big guy…about 5’8”. At the time this occurred I weighed about 170 pounds. (Those were the days.) It was the dead of winter. We were in the suburbs of Wichita, Kansas. It had been bitter cold, Kansas cold, for more than a week. It was late on the coldest night of all. The wind was howling. Parts of Nebraska were blowing past the windows which overlooked a field on the east side of the building.

The baptistery was constructed behind the pulpit on the north part of the building. The baptistery heater may have worked at some point in the past. But, it was definitely out-of-service at this time. The dressing rooms doubled as vestibules for the emergency exits. To say these rooms were drafty would be a gross understatement. Now, if a person needed to sit down to make ready for the baptism or to get dressed afterward, metal folding chairs were readily available.

Well, the young man I was baptizing was nearly as big as one of the barns on the farm where he was raised. He was nearly a foot taller than me. He weighed about 250 pounds. He was solid, too. Pure muscle! Well, I started my years of ministry in southern Colorado. So, I was no stranger to cold-water-rescues of penitent sinners. I began to explain to this young man what we were about to experience. He interrupted with an assurance that there would be no problem whatsoever. He went on to courteously explain that he was ready to be baptized and didn’t want to wait for even one more syllable of caution from me. I complied.

As we entered the water our lips turned blue. We shrieked uncontrollably as we gasped for air. I attempted to say something about not wanting him to be shocked when he went under the water, but it was inaudible. I also attempted to state something meaningful just before I baptized him. This, too, was garbled. The last thing I remember before baptizing him was the look of pleading on his face. It was like he was asking me to please…please…please hurry.

When I buried him in the watery grave he instantly became so rigid I became alarmed. It really frightened me. Where I’m from in Oklahoma we’d say that it skeert me hafta death! I reached behind him and attempted to lift him up. I was able to get a good hold on the garment near the middle of his back. It was good enough for me to hold on tightly while his sinking body pulled me under. Just about the time my nose was going under, he came alive. His arms were flailing. He was grasping for something solid to hold on to and pull himself up. We were both instantly engaged in a demonstration of how to climb a ladder when there is no ladder. A couple of seconds later we were both standing in the baptistery looking at each other and laughing our heads off. People were gathered on the landings above the steps on both sides of the baptistery. They were roaring in laughter. I’ve always thought that he certainly received the Spirit when he was baptized. The room was so full of joy, there was no doubting it!

Well, that’s one of my memories.

God bless you and yours,

-bill

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About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Baptism, Children, Christianity, Family, humor, Personal. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to A Baptismal Story

  1. Donna says:

    That is a good one. Made me want some hot chocolate though!!

  2. Dee Andrews says:

    OH . . . MY . . . GOODNESS . . . Bill.

    Gosh, it has me feeling really cold just reading it! Wow! What a cool (to say the least) story!

    Prayers to you and accolades for being such a great minister!

    That’s all I can say.

    Cheers & Blessings to you today! Oh yeah – and warm wishes!!

    Dee

  3. Kathy says:

    Tooooo funny! I’m laughing with tears streaming down my face. Thank you, Bill. Great story!!

    How has his walk in the Spirit been, do you know?

    Think I’ll go a-bloggin’ to recount my baptismal story. Nothing as great as yours, but it’s mine and a found memory it is too! 🙂

    You are great, Bill. Love your stories almost as much as your studies.

  4. loriannhouse says:

    Before we had a place to baptise people at our church we would go down to a local KOA and baptise people. We once had to break the ice to baptise a person. I should say this but I think I would have waited until summer to be baptised. : )

  5. Greg England says:

    I remember “re-baptizing” and elder’s son in Florida. He had quite a reputation for not walking with the Lord and this seemed to be a turning point in his life. (In retrospect, it probably was not a turning point.) At each end of the baptistry, covering the steps, was a wooden platform designed to hold a screen in place over the water to prevent evaporation. We got a little off center and when I started to lower him into the water, I hit his head on the wooden platform. He let out a very audible “Uhhhh!” I stuck him under and he started resisting a little … probably due to the fact he’d expelled his air when he made that sound going down! In his struggle, we got even more off center and when I brought him up, I hit his head against the underside of that same wooden platform! By then any semblence of sacredness to the moment was drowned out by the laughter of the audience. For some reason, no one wanted me to baptize them for a long time after that episode.

  6. Maria says:

    Gosh you have some stories there!!

    God bless
    Maria in the UK
    http://www.inhishands.co.uk

  7. Cecil Walker says:

    I’ve had “highs and lows” with my baptismal stories. The highs would be baptizing my son at our week of Bible Camp and baptizing my good friend, Chuck, following a conversation at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures. Greg was in on a conversation that took place in “the rocks” high above the campus.

    The low (if you can have one with baptism) was an incident that also occurred at our week of camp several years ago when I was attending another church. That particular preacher came to our week that year as a Cabin Counselor. He was in attendance when I baptized one of our campers. He came up to me later and said I didn’t completely immerse her. We argued as to whether she went all the way under or not and as to whether she was in The Kingdom because of the “perfect way” I did or didn’t baptize her, or was it the work of our Holy God through Jesus.

    Initially I refused to re-baptize because I wasn’t going to be a party to “water theology.” I changed my mind when he threaten to go to this camper and do it himself. I felt that I needed to spare her the trauma as best as I could. I performed the “re-baptism” of this camper but looking back on it in retrospect, if I had to do it all over again I would have sent our preacher home after making such a threat.

    I bet you never thought you’d get a “horror story” on this post. Thanks be to God for His Son Jesus who gives “baptism” it’s true meaning.

    I Peter 3:
    3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 59
    3:19 in which 60 also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,
    3:20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.
    3:21 And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience– through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
    3:22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.

  8. Maggie says:

    “We were both instantly engaged in a demonstration of how to climb a ladder when there is no ladder.”

    That was uproarious.

    The heater was out when I was Baptized, too. MAN! I had goosebumps on my goosebumps, as my kids would say!

    My Mom made me wear this thick, crushed, velour homemade Christmas dress…it just held all that water. Whoo-Wee! But, I was one happy girl…I wanted to go first!

  9. Great comments, folks! I’ve been a bit out-of-the-loop today. This morning, I woke on the right coast of the good ole’ U.S. of A. and tonight, I will (unless the Lord comes) go to sleep on the left coast. I’m attending a training program for something that, the Lord willing, I’ll write about in the next few days. At the moment, only one thing sounds good to me: gettin’ sum shut-eye.

    Good night, John Boy (and all my blogging friends out there!)

    -bill

  10. donna says:

    Enjoyed your memories….what a hoot!!

    Have a blessed trip…

    Donna

  11. Kathy says:

    Praying the conference is all you anticipate it to be! Hoping you’ll be able to spend Sunday on the sunny, beautiful ‘left coast’ – we who are from that gorgeous state prefer to call it the ONLY coast. LOL

    May your sleep be gentle and sweet, giving you renewed energies for the day’s activities. Amen!

  12. Jim Martin says:

    Bill,
    This is a great story. You told it well. I could just picture this. It is amazing how many “interesting” things happen at such special moments.

  13. laymond says:

    Good stories, I have one that I won’t bother to tell

  14. Cecil Walker says:

    If you’re any where near Greg and the “Wood Ranch” in Agoura Hills, get him to take you there and order the tri-tip. You never know, Greg might even pay for dinner.

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