A Birthday Baptism by Buccaneer Bay

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.

Baptism ParentsBoth my roommates were there. Been truly blessed to live with such amazing affirming guys these last two years.

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.

Baptism RoomatesUnconventional has been my road to baptism, so it was only fitting I be dunked in such an uncharacteristic manner, surrounded by pirate paraphernalia in a water park’s lazy river, of all places.

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.

  • Katie Terry

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. Your speech brought tears to my eyes. I’m so glad you were surrounded by some great friends and loved ones. Everybody is so pretty and nice! Must be a CA thing. I would have loved to have been there. Proud of you and all that you have accomplished this past week/year/your whole life. You are an amazing human being, and I count myself lucky to know you. Love you. 

    • TMZ

       Hooray, I always aim to make others cry. Nah but seriously, thank you so much for all those sweet words. Love you too friend!

  • Mlyaksh

    Dude, awesome. God is truly able to do more than we can ever dream or imagine like Paul says in Ephesians 3:20!! So proud of you, man, and how you are pursuing God courageously this year! Love ya, my bro in Christ, and I’m so blessed and honored to see the amazing works God is doing in and through you!

    • TMZ

      Thanks man, definitely striving to reverse the normally un-courageous trend of my life this year. Stoked that this baptism truly hit me out of nowhere, and I still have 8 months left in 2012. May you live courageously as well!

  • Rebecka

    Thank you for sharing, this was beautiful!

    • TMZ

      Thanks Rebecka! Glad you enjoyed it so much.

  • Karl

    Tom, this is so inspiring! I’m really glad that you shared this! Baptism is incredibly beautiful. I am seeking to become baptized myself. I have been attending Grace Fellowship in Oconee County for the past few months. I’m excited about the changes God has been making in my life, and the way He has been molding me into the likeness of His Son. I’ve been thinking about baptism lately, and only recently I expressed to my friends that I was seeking to become baptized. Seeing your story here is very inspiring!! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • TMZ

      KARL. Thank you SO MUCH for commenting here! Totally made my night. So excited to hear that you’re considering baptism as well. That’s awesome. For most of my life I was convinced, literally, that I just never would take that step. It’s been scary to break down those walls, but ultimately freeing and SO worth the risk. I definitely encourage you to step out on that. Will be praying for you! Much love, brother.

  • Patrick

    God Bless you Tom. And guide you in His best throughout your future days.

                                                                                    Numbers  6:24-26
                                                                                     Uncle Pat

    • TMZ

      Thanks Uncle Pat! So cool that those verses have been on my heart the last couple days. Thanks so much for posting it and commenting here. Means a lot. Can’t wait to see you and the PA gang in just a couple weeks!

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  • Tom, was just taking a look at your website, and I came across this. Brought tears to my eyes! Baptism is a beautiful snapshot of our life in Christ… dead to our past and ALIVE in Christ. What love. God bless you!

    • TMZ

      Glad you found this and enjoyed it, Everett. Will never forget that snapshot moment as long as I live!

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  • Patrick

    Hey Tom it’s Patrick from camp I was a camper

    • TMZ

      Patrick! Oh my gosh, I love getting random comments like this. Thank you for making my night! I miss you and all the campers from this summer. So much. I hope you’ve been having a great year!

      Hope you enjoyed this post too!

      • Patrick

        Are going to be at camp this year

        • TMZ

          No idea. I actually recently posted about my summer dilemma. So much of me wants to return! It would just be such a commitment coming back all the way from California again. Praying about it. We’ll see what happens! Either way, I hope you’re there once again to have a great time and grow in the Lord!

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