The River Jordan

During junior high, I attended a little country Methodist church within walking distance of my home. I often taught Sunday school to the younger kids and I loved using a flannel board to tell the weekly Bible stories. In addition, my family frequently attended revivals at Mt. Nebo Church of Christ with other relatives and neighbors.

Attending church back then was as much a social event as a religious one. Families went early to visit while the kids ran off their energy before having to sit through a service. And sit we did, for the duration. There were no nurseries and no special kid’s church. I can remember praying for another hymn so we could stand up and sing. I was all about making a joyful noise unto the Lord. Without musical accompaniment, the voices of the church members blended in perfect harmony and it was in that church that I learned to love the traditional hymns so much. It was also at that church where I had my first “come to Jesus” moment.

The sermons I remember always ended with an altar call. After one memorable rant promising damnation if we didn’t heed the call to accept Jesus, the congregation was singing oh, lamb of God, I come and I made the decision to go forward and acknowledge my need to be baptized. Just as I started to step out into the aisle, two of the teenaged boys from the community started toward the altar. At that point, I can only say that the devil pushed me back to my seat and whispered do you really want to get baptized in the same water as those two boys? Eewww!

It took me a lot of years before I took that final step in committing my life to God. Five years ago today, I was baptized in The River Jordan, in Israel. There, in the same river where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, I publicly professed my faith. Being just a few steps beyond normal, I did it with a lot of enthusiasm. As I walked out of the river, I was singing a song written by Bill Gaither, Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, Because He lives, all fear is gone, Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives!

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