Laying Down Burdens with Lifted Hands

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The Story

Everyone has traditions they observe blindly. In the church, one of these traditions, or rites of passage, is getting baptized to outwardly show the new life one is beginning with their Savior. As a small child, I would look at the painting of the baptism scene, the dove ascending after Christ was baptized, and wondered what it all meant.

The thought of being submerged underwater was frightening. I was also afraid of learning how to swim. We loaded buses in the summer to go out of town to a local pool. I must have gone just for the fun of it because I never learned how to swim. There were a couple of near drowning experiences which eventually convinced me I was more of an observer than a swimmer.

However, being baptized was an important event I looked forward to because of what it signified. We were all dressed in white gowns and had white scarves or handkerchiefs tied around our heads. As the congregants sang, “Take me to the water. Take me to the water. Take me to the water, and baptize me,” we were escorted to the baptism pool behind the pulpit one at a time. The pastor or deacon would state our name and our confession of faith, then submerge us in the water.

Each time one of us ascended out the water, the church sang in unison, “Thank God, been baptized. Thank God, been baptized. Thank God, been baptized.” My thoughts were, “Thank God, been baptized. Thank God, been baptized. Thank God, been baptized, and I didn’t drown!”

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