Last Wednesday night, heaven rejoiced.
I got a text around eleven o'clock saying that one of my friends was getting baptized. Baptisms happen about once a week after our campus church service. There's always one or two people who are so moved by the sermon that they decide to take the next step in their faith. My campus pastor baptizes people in the 'lake' outside of the Library. The 'lake' can be mistaken with Willy Wonka's chocolate river and smells like a public porta-potty.
I got down there and I heard so many cheers. I started asking myself if the people really understood that stepping in that water could actually give them a disease. I was confused about why my friends decided to get baptized in this water rather than in a church, or a pool, or literally anything else. I was so focused on the negative and the physical aspect of the baptism that I stopped myself from realizing the joy.
But then I let myself watch as each of my friends went under the dirty water and then come up, washed clean.
I stood in the back and cheered after each one, watching and talking to God.
Sometimes, when you're called to do something, God tells you directly. I think I wanted that. I wanted the heavens to boom and for God to say "Markey, go jump in that lake and publicly declare your love for me". But that's not what was going to happen. I had to realize how much I needed it.
I was standing there, literally held back only by the mud that surrounded the water, when someone looked at me and said, "it's not about the water".
The idea of baptism is not only about publicly declaring your love and belief for God. It's about taking your old life, and all the sin that surrounds it, and washing it away. A lot of times that sin and lifestyle are disgusting. They make you live in fear and away from God's love. I was living in sin and filth that was much worse than some lake water.
I don't want to be cheesy and say 'my life was like that muddy water', but it totally was. I think we forget how dirty and unpleasant our lives become when they aren't lived for God. We cover our stench up with perfume, or try to wash it with soap. I think I tried to do that a lot, I would pretend that my sin wasn't weighing me down and remind myself that "I'm a Christian, I've been set free. I'm good".
But even though I covered it up, I needed to do something more. I needed God to wash me clean.
So I went into that water. And honestly? It wasn't that bad. When I was under, I opened my eyes for a second and saw all the mud and debris or whatever swimming around above me. I know it's disgusting, but I knew that the crap around me was just as disgusting as my sin in my life.
I know that just because I was baptized doesn't mean that I'm a completely different person now. The sermon that Wednesday night was actually about the breakthroughs and the process. We only have a few breakthroughs in our lifetime, but we can always keep the process going.
While maybe getting baptized didn't transform me immediately, it did change me and I think it helped me. It was needed for me.
Nineteen people on my hall got baptized that night. We had another baptism a week later, and another still.
God is doing something great and I'm alive to witness it.
But what if I had let the dirty water stop me?
God wants you to do great things and empowers you to do so. Only Satan can stop you. Understand what your 'dirty water' is. Know what's holding you back from glorifying God, and then jump into it.
I'm blessed to have had that push, and maybe you need one too.
"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth... you've been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God."
1 Peter 1:22