I should be counting the days left at my job, in nervous anticipation of starting a new one, and in the sadness of leaving my comfort zone and people I know and love. I should be counting the days until my son comes home from college. I can’t WAIT to see him, and throw my arms around him and give him a Mom-size hug! I should be counting the days until my trip out-of-state in January. But I’m not! (At least, for now, I’m not). Instead, I’m counting the days until Sunday, when my friends Jessica & Tim get baptized. I’ve not been this excited over a baptism since that of my sons. Jessica has asked me how to explain WHY they are getting baptized, to her young children, so I have been praying for the words to share. And praying, and waiting, and praying, and waiting………….
Then, I met with a good friend having some difficult times. She knows Christ. She follows Jesus. But during our most difficult trials, we need the encouragement of friends to see clearly sometimes. So we decided to meet for breakfast the other morning and share with each other what is going on in our lives. Scripture tells us in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” I like to say, “A joy shared is doubled. A sorry shared is halved!” During our conversation, she began to cry and asked me, “What does it mean to be crucified with Christ?” I know that my friend knows the answer to this, but she needed it spoken to her. She needed me to do for her, what she has done soooo many times for me in the past. But I also knew in that moment, that I had my answer as to how I would explain baptism to the children of my friends….
Dear Mary, Rosalia, Dom, & Gabe,
Jesus was the ONLY Son of God, His ONLY child! And in order to save the whole world – You, me, your Mom & Dad, and even all of the people we sometimes don’t like very much, God had to SEND Him back to earth to live a perfect life, and die so that you and I could get to heaven! People didn’t believe who He was – that He was the Son of God. They thought He was a phony because Jesus didn’t look like they expected a real King to look like, and He did not approve of the things that they thought He should approve of. So because they didn’t like Him very much, they decided to have Him crucified – KILLED!
They made Jesus then carry a great big wooden cross that was very, very heavy, a long ways, while the people who didn’t like Him were bullying Him really, really bad – kicking him, and hitting him, and cutting and whipping Him, spitting on Him, and calling Him bad names. But the whole time that Jesus carried that cross, do you know what he was thinking of? He was thinking about how much He loved YOU!!! And how much He loved your Mom and your Dad! And how much He loved everyone! So He just let them continue to hurt him really badly, and He went up the hill with His cross, and He let those people nail his hands and feet to a cross, and then made Him hang there for a long time making fun of Him, and saying bad things until He gave up His life and died. His poor Mom and friends and family had to watch all of this take place, and they just kept crying. It was so hard for them to watch all of this take place.
Jesus’ mom was sooo sad when He died. And His friends were also very sad. They cried and cried and cried. Their hearts were so broken!! They just lost their best friend! Mary had lost her son! But they found comfort knowing that He loved them, and He loved you and me and your Mom & Dad sooo much, that He was willing to let those mean people do all those things to Him, just to make a way for YOU to get to heaven some day! You see, if He had not done that, YOU, and ME, and your Mom and Dad, would never, ever, ever be able to go to heaven!
So for the next three days, everyone was so sad and lonely and they missed their friend Jesus so, so, so much! But on the 3rd day after He died, and was put in a cave, He actually ROSE from the dead!! Can you imagine how happy His friends were to see Him!!! Later on, Jesus actually ASCENDED into heaven… That’s where He is right now. (But now, He ALSO lives inside of your Mom & Dad!)
One day this year, your Mom & Dad started to pray really hard, and they began asking God to make Himself known, if He was real. And do you know what happened? God answered their prayers. One day, they each suddenly REALIZED that the story they had heard all of their lives about Jesus dying on the cross was a very, very, very personal story! They suddenly realized that Jesus loved them both sooooo much that He died for them!!! And then they thought about how much they love each one of YOU, and then, they really began to understand how badly Jesus was bullied, until He was actually KILLED! And just how much He LOVES them! And you! Jesus LET that happen so that your Mom & Dad, and Gabe, and Rosalia, and Dom, and Mary, could all be together one day in heaven!!
So at THAT point, your Mom & Dad decided because Jesus died for all of your family – That THEY would dedicate their lives to serving Him, that they would let Jesus run their lives – ALL of their lives, not little pieces of it, but ALL of it. They have prayed and prayed and prayed all year long for all of you so much. When I hear them talk about how much they love you guys…….. Wow! It reminds ME of how much I love MY kids! (And you get to meet my kids next week! And my kids get to meet you next week too!)
Your Mom & Dad have decided that they want to be baptized in water, showing all of their friends and their family and especially you guys, that they have decided to give their lives to following Jesus, and allowing Him to be the Lord of their lives forever! When they go down into the water, that is symbolizing the death of Jesus on the cross, and the burial of Jesus in that cave. When they come UP from the water, that symbolizes that Jesus rose from the dead, and that He is in heaven, and that they can now go there one day too! This is when you get to clap and cheer really, really, really loudly!
It’s really, really cool what your Mom & Dad are doing, and I can’t wait to see you, and celebrate with all of you! You know what I’m praying for? I’m praying that someday really, really soon (maybe even on Sunday!), you guys all decide to give YOUR lives to Jesus, too! He loves you sooooo much. And I pray that Jesus SURROUNDS you with good friends who also follow Jesus, like your Mom & Dad & I – and like my friend I had breakfast with this week.
Here’s a little video I found that might help, okay? See you next week!