On June 11, 1986 I made a significant decision. I decided that I wanted to continue my spiritual walk by making a lasting commitment through baptism. In my tradition we follow a "believers baptism" and immerse the entire body in a body of water. Typically we must be able to intellectually and verbally adhere to the fact that Jesus is the son of God and that we believe that his sacrifice on the cross and resurrection was real. Then we are baptized into that death, burial, and resurrection for the remission of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It is amazing that after following the Christian path from infancy that you can understand all of those things at 9 years of age and some would say that maybe you can't. That 9 may be too young. However, I'm not sure we ever fully understand all of those things. I'm not sure I understand to the fullest at 39 years of age. I know that I understand more today than I did that day and actually my prayer is that I understand and faithfully follow Jesus more each day. I know that I understood more than some others who had lived different lives and less than some others for the same reason.
Here is what I knew. I was intoxicated with this Jesus thing and didn't want to ever be away from Him and His promises. I had sin in my life, although what was "big sin" to me then seems less like sin at all to me now. I believed in Christ and had for a long time already. Belief in the reality of a divine savior made into man, left to us in Spirit never was difficult for me. (Now I understand that there aren't modes of God, but rather a full presence of all three of these things at the same time. I cannot explain it, yet I believe it.) I wanted to be sin free and knew that Jesus was the path for grace. And one of the more harsher realities of life was that I had seen sin break into my family and tear it apart. I had seen disease come over my brother's body and almost kill him. I had seen my mom rise like a phoenix out of the ashes of her own brokenness. And I had seen the body of Christ surround my family even though we had no power, no wealth, and now no voice.
Baptism made sense to dedicate my life to God because I had seen the glory of God through the church, through redemption, and through divine provision. Jesus saves us from our sin, but in our baptism we acknowledge His divine power in us through His Holy Spirit. We become connected with a spiritual hardwire to one another. Sin will encroach our lives post-baptism, but we become a grace-filled being where it is as if God has given us a teflon coating where sin can no longer stick.
But more than sinlessness and grace and even gifting of the Holy Spirit, baptism allows us the opportunity to deepen our relationship with God. When we believe in Jesus and call on his name and become immersed in the waters of baptism we buy into the reality that Jesus through the cross and God through Jesus' resurrection has once and for all defeated not only our physical dominion of the world's brokenness, but has crushed underfoot the spiritual dominion that Satan and his demons wield over humanity. Satan has been defeated by God, Jesus, Spirit on the earth and in the divine spaces we cannot see.
Baptism should be chosen. Not manipulated. Not pressured. Not chosen for you. Baptism should be chosen, not because God cannot work through other means, but because when we choose our baptism we are given a deeper faith and understanding that God rules this world and beyond. When we choose God and He wins, well...we win too!