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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)

TITLE: At Water's Edge
By Elizabeth Ingersoll


I vividly recall sitting in the middle of the pew, head bowed. My eyes weren’t closed, as they should have been. I was peeking, as best I could without being caught, to see if anyone was going to the front of the church. No one moved. I thought to myself, “Why not? You’re the only one on this row who hasn’t done it yet.” There had been no great revelation, no crying, and no celebration. I did believe in Jesus. My mama and daddy had told me about Him, so it must be true. So I walked to the front of the church, and within a few days I was baptized. I was about twelve.

Eighteen years later, I sat in my seat near the end of the row, my heart tight with emotion, my throat choking back a sob, and my eyes stinging with tears. I had listened week after week as the pastor told of the importance of a believer’s baptism. I knew God was asking me to do it. But what would people think? What would my mom say? So week after week I resisted. Until I could simply ignore God no longer.

So, that beautiful Sunday afternoon in August, my husband, my children and I drove to the lake after church. We parked at the factory and rode the bus over to the shore. We stepped off the bus into the midst of snow-white tents, their shadows providing a welcome respite from the heat. Long tables stretched underneath them, heavy laden with an abundance of food for the crowd that was gathering.

We walked from tent to tent, looking for a shady spot for my family to settle away from the brutal rays of sun, but all of the seats were taken. A complete stranger greeted us, and sought all over until she found a place in the shade for us, to protect my newborn from the soaring temperatures. What a precious woman she was!

Those being baptized filed into the clubhouse to change and get a white robe to wear in the water. The line to the dressing area was long, but no one seemed to mind. The air was thick with joy and excitement.

Finally, it was time. Time to be obedient to my God, who had called me to come to Him. This time, for real and forever. There may have been nearly one hundred baptized beside me that day, but I felt alone with my God. I watched the others as they were plunged beneath the surface, but the closer I got to the water’s edge, the more I could only see my Jesus.

My heart raced with anticipation. The butterflies in my stomach were in full flight. My turn, at last. My turn to leave something useless, tattered and worn at the bottom of that lake: my worthless, sinful soul. My turn to leave it to drown, and to have it replaced with a glowing, pristine new one, made just for me by my Jesus.

I was surprised at how demanding the walk in the water was. The mud was deep, and my feet felt mired in it. The shallow water offered a surprising resistance, and my legs struggled against it. How much my steps mirrored my life walk with God thus far. Difficult, tiring, moving forward ever so slowly. But I would not stop. This time, I wasn’t alone. My Father was waiting for me, encouraging my every step. I knew that each one was taking me closer to freedom, to what my heart had been longing for. My Lord. El Shaddai.

I was lifted from those waters a new creation in Christ, but will always struggle with my sinful human nature. So now, once again I stand at the water’s edge, stroking a penny lightly with my thumb. I am here again to let go.

The coin in my hand represents the useless, unwanted things in my life that I bring to give up to my God. Things I want to leave at the bottom of the lake. And I will have many pennies in my short life to bring to this shore.

As I toss it in, I can almost feel the cool water rushing over my face, and my burden lightens. I will leave my troubles to drown in the cleansing blood of the Lamb, as my renewed soul emerges from waters again.

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This article has been read 547 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 10/26/07
Some beautiful descriptions in this piece. Good work.
Yvonne Blake 10/26/07
Good descriptions. The beginning was a little dry, but you got better as you went on. I especially liked the paragraph that told how difficult is was to walk into the water and how you compared it to your previous attitude.
Terry R A Eissfeldt 10/30/07
This is a good story - I enjoyed reading it and journeying with the character.
The transition to the penny part was a bit abrupt but I think the representation of tossing the penny into the lake as a recollection of baptism is brilliant .
Joanne Sher 10/30/07
Love the descriptions, especially in the last few long paragraphs of this piece. Very vivid.
Jan Ackerson 10/31/07
Nicely done, and it's hard to believe this is a first entry. Good job.

It might be a tad more effective if you introduce the penny idea early in the piece, then return to it in the end. As is, it's a bit abrupt: I thought, where'd that penny come from?

Strong entry.
Sheri Gordon10/31/07
This is really good. Are you sure you haven't done this before? :)

I agree with Jan's comment. The penny kind of comes from nowhere. I would have liked a little more explanation about that. Why a penny? When/how did that ritual start? Was this the first time you threw the penny?

Very good writing. Clear, descriptive, good message, flows smoothly. Welcome aboard -- you won't be in beginners for long.
Brenda Welc11/01/07
Wonderful first entry, welcome to Faithwriters! The piece flowed nicely. Keep up the great writing, always remember that God writes through you what He wants the world to see. Be Blessed!
Sheri Gordon11/01/07
Congratulations on your highly commended. This is one of my favorite pieces. Good job.