It’s been an amazing Resurrection Sunday.
Time with my God early this morning. Worship with my Seaford Baptist Church family. Lunch with (most) of my crew. True Sabbath rest this afternoon.
But the day is not over.
It’s 5:15 pm right now. And in just a little over an hour, will be the anniversary of my baptism. It took place on an Easter evening. No, there wasn’t a planned worship service that night. But out of God’s grace and mercy, that’s the night that God called me to the waters of baptism.
We were a small group of worshippers that gathered that night, to sing to our God, and then to stand beside me as I took this long-coming act of obedience. Jack, my now incarcerated ex-husband, was the one who baptized me. And I’ll be honest with you–since his incarceration, I’ve had a hard time with that. In recent years, that has cast a sort of shadow over the remembrance for me.
But not this year.
Not this year because God has placed in my soul a brand new assurance that, no matter who baptized me that night, the actual baptism was not only clearly a calling to obedience by Him, it was a picture of my death and resurrection into new life–and it doesn’t matter who baptized me. Or who was in attendance. What matters is that God so loved me, that He gave His son for me. For you. For us. And as we all worshipped that night around the piano–He was glorified.
You may have been there. You may remember.
It’s because this verse in Romans 6:4 is truth. Real truth:
Do you see? If you are a believer, and have been baptized—you, and I, we were buried with Jesus in death. Not literal death, of course, but as a picture of the death that He died for us. He died for us! And we participate in baptism so that–just like our Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too can demonstrate a picture of what Christ did for us, in raising us from the death of our sins through the glory of God. We are baptized because God calls us to be baptized.
How sweet that night was, the night I was baptized. That night that God ordained. That Easter night that seems so long ago and yet seems like it could have occurred today. Surrounded by my friends–by my family. Worshipping God. Eating ice cream after. I will be forever grateful for that night.
For before that night, how I wrestled with doubt and disbelief! How it had a grasp upon my soul! It clung to me like mud that I couldn’t shake free of, that I couldn’t cleanse away on my own. But on the Saturday before my baptism Easter, I read a story in scripture that I’d never really looked at before. It’s found in John 20. It’s about Thomas. Oh, I knew Thomas was known as “Doubting Thomas”, but I had never really read the story deeply. I had never really considered the meaning. I had never really believed it was truth. Until that Saturday. When I saw myself, in Thomas.
24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
I, too, stubbornly and sinfully had determined that I would not believe–not until I saw the evidence. I wanted to say, with Thomas, “Unless I have physical proof, unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, I will never believe!” But, on that Saturday, in a moment of intense anguish, I admitted this to God. I essentially told God “Look, see Thomas? That is me! That is me!”
And in the moments that followed, God answered. No, He didn’t audibly talk to me. No, there was no miracle, no lightening strike, no blast of thunder confirming His presence. No, instead, there was a calming of my very hurting soul, and an awakening in my mind that I was the evidence I was looking for. My changed life was the evidence I was seeking. For God had changed me. He had pursued me. He had proven Himself to me. That He is the God that sees and knows and cares, even in this world full of evil. I was changed. I was the evidence. And I could say, with Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”
The night of my baptism, I asked a dear friend to read this passage from John 20 for us all. I wanted to hear the story again, before my baptism. She graciously read this scripture for all who were in attendance to hear.
Tonight, that same dear friend is at the funeral home, grieving, and receiving sweet condolences and love from our church family and the community, for the love of her life went home to be with Jesus just a couple of days ago. Tomorrow she will say “Goodbye for now”. There will be deep sadness. For my friend, for her family, for our community.
But she knows that it won’t be forever. This man came to know Jesus as His savior later in life, after being prayed for by her and by so many for so many years. And His love for God was sweet. Was real. Was truth. And today, on this Easter Sunday, He stands before our Father, whole and well, and able to say, with Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”
I share that story with you because it illustrates the work that Christ did for us upon the cross, when He died for our sins. And it shows the hope we have of eternal life through the resurrection of our Savior on that glorious Easter morning. You, too, can know this hope. You, too, can experience the cleansing power of forgiveness of sins. You, too, can join with me in proclaiming “My Lord and my God” as we gaze upon the evidence of our changed lives–changed only through His grace and mercy.