My friend Colin got baptized this morning. He and our buddy James drove out to Applegate (the river—more of a creek, as opposed to the lake) and took a dip. Actually they waded in, I just observed. Phone in hand, from the concrete block next to some garish, multileveled pipe thing. The pipe was left out of the frame, in case you couldn’t already guess.
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, He cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
The Lord had put on Colin’s heart to take the plunge. After having been separated from his wife and baby girl this past month for some complex reasons, he found himself back in our neck of the woods, literally. He had made his way from Crater Lake where he danced before the Lord and after losing his balance on a log, found himself splayed out on his back with his face to the sky and a sharp, jagged rock in his side. And he immediately saw the symbolism. It was time for a change. Beginning with his ablution, he is finding himself on a new path. It wends its way through town (he graduated high school right over there) and back up north to Hermiston to see his folks. We’re both writers and we’re both passionate about education. About the Word of God. I myself got baptized last Summer and while it’s something the Lord commands as “outward proof of inward devotion”, the act necessarily boils down to a one-on-One choice before the Lord of one’s life.
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)
I met Colin two days ago. I find it remarkable that the paradigm of “friendship” would fall so simply and solidly upon two perfect strangers. I was going into work, getting coffee before my shift—as is my wont—and I noticed a gentleman with a Giants cap studying a big, worn out Bible, the once gilt edges showing more gray than gold. I had a cup of water I wasn’t going to finish and so walked across the flagstone tiles to the men’s room to pour it out. I asked the Lord prior to leaving the restroom if I should interact with him. I can’t explain why I would have gone back over to the other side of the coffee shop (oh yeah, because my americano wasn’t quite ready) but picking up my cup, I threw a “God bless you.” his way and he returned it. It reminds me of Elizabeth’s meeting Mary from Luke (see 1:41). The Spirit in both of us clicked, resonated. I left for work and a half-hour or so later, he sidled on into my place of employ and asked where the Bibles were. What began as a subtle and inconspicuous interaction (that I could’ve shrugged off had I not asked the Father whether or not I should interact with someone I’d never met) led to dinner and a beer that night and to this morning where I would witness something so momentous as three guys performing the ritual that shows the very symbol of rebirth (Colin has been a Christian his whole life). Rebirth as Christ delivered it to the human race.
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6, emphasis mine)
During the time he was in town, Colin reconciled with his wife and they’re headed to see one another (she’s in California with their precious girl). So praise God. But if there’s one thing Colin has taught me (understand that I’ve only known him for less than a week upon uploading this post but going forward, will know him for all eternity), it’s take risks. More outgoing than I, he spoke into me a resolve to do and be and walk without fear. Momentous as that may sound, it’s a watershed. And I know I’m on a different (better) path than I was just a few days ago. It’s gentle, but I can feel it—I’ve learned something new. And I suppose I proved before God my willingness to learn by stepping out in faith just before I made a new friend. Don’t be afraid. We are the Body of Christ and if we push through our (already outmoded) preconceived notions that the Holy Spirit wants to overhaul, we will realize it—I mean make it real.