I was baptized last week.
It was more “unconventional” in the sense that the event did not occur within the traditional confines of a Sunday morning service of a standard church building.
I kinda like that.
But though occurring on a non-churchy Tuesday night at a non-churchy water park, my baptism most certainly occurred in the truly Churchy presence of a dozen and a half dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
My parents flew into town earlier in the day, so they were present.
Several people from my church’s life group attended. We always meet on Wednesday nights, so for that many people to take the time out of their normal Tuesday night schedule was pretty special.
A dear guy I worked with last summer in Milwaukee also showed up. So blessed that he lives in the area.
It was just moving beyond words for all these precious people from so many different “sectors” of my life to support me wholeheartedly with their presence: family, roommates, fellow “lifers,” etc.
I essentially lived all my teenage years and early 20s believing I wasn’t good enough for authentic friendship and genuine community. So to be surrounded by so many dear brothers and sisters in a single place, a single moment…
There are no words.
From here on out, whenever I’m tempted to believe I’m worthless or irrelevant, I can look back on my 25th birthday. My baptism.
Thus surrounded by pirates and fellow siblings in Christ, I went under. Then arose.
And then the cheers. The 487 hugs. The breaking into “Oh Happy Day.” It was a chilling glimpse into eternity: where perfect peace and unrelenting love collide, crossing all nationalities, denominations, and ages, forever and ever.
Could I have written this story any better?
I’ve often sought the pen to my life, but after 25 years I’m grasping how I know nothing about what’s best for me. My 25th birthday was unspeakably beautiful and memorable, and these written words do the ethereal moment no justice whatsoever.
I’m reminded that God holds the pen to my story, not me. His plan for my life will be far greater than anything I could ever fathom or write for myself.
Despite my apparent unworthiness, often overwhelmed by fear and shame and worthlessness, I am somehow, indeed, worth the price of love. Was worth dying for 2000 years ago, am worth loving today.
I am, and you are too. Nobody is worthless; nobody is beyond love. That is an awesome, astounding truth. I pray my focus shifts drastically from simply receiving love to giving it out, unabashed and unreserved.
A quarter-century in the books; what a journey.
And the journey continues.