I shiver slightly as the cold water of the wide, wide Red River laps over my water socks, drenching my feet instantly. I shiver at the thought of how it will feel when the water rushes over my head, soaking my thick golden brown hair. I shiver at the thought of how I’m prone to catching cold. I shiver at the thought of the last temperature reading the digital numbers displayed in the car before my mom shut it off. 76 degrees.
Typically, this is ideal weather for late September in Texas. But not for today. Today, I’ve been hoping for some of that baking heat of summer to last one more day…
Lifting my chin slightly I splash further into the chilly water, soaking the hem of my shorts.
Slowly and trustingly, I put all doubt out of my mind. This is the day the Lord has made, rang in my head, and I believe in my heart this is His will. After nearly twenty years of waiting, it is time.
The four of us - dad, mom, brother, me - held hands on the water’s edge, my mind racing and my heart praying, Lord, somehow, let it be warm…
My dad is praying for us, giving thanks for salvation, for the sacrifice made so very long ago.
Moisture is already filling my eyes as I take my place between my dad and my brother. Mama is close by with camera and towels at the ready.
I consciously put away memories of how many times these plans have been derailed, interrupted, lost…this is the day! I am rejoicing in my heart, despite the fact it is late in September, despite the cold, despite the concerns, despite everything.
It is time for my baptism in the Red River!
“Do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?” My dad’s tone is familiar, but it is almost as if I am hearing it for the first time.
Memory briefly flashes back to my five-year-old self, asking Jesus into my heart.
My reply is trembling, but firm, “Yes I do.”
“Upon your confession of faith, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Buried in the likeness of His death…”
His voice fades as the river water fills my ears and rushes over my face. Coming straight back up, I hear my dad finish, “Raised in His likeness to walk in the newness of life.”
My heart is fluttering as I wipe the wetness from my eyes, joyful and surprised. It’s like a miracle; I’m not cold! I feel warm and safe. And the sun is already drying my hair and face.
I laugh a little to myself. Why did I ever worry? Why did I even doubt?
With joy filling my heart, my brother and I exchange places and we proceed to baptize him, my mother and my father in the same manner. I keep thinking to myself, what a glorious time this is!
Wading to the bank, I gaze back at the river with a smile. At last. At long last, I have been baptized as Jesus was so long ago. And in spite of the river water still clinging to me, I feel strangely clean!
“Thank You, Lord,” I breathed quietly as I stood on the sandy beach of the Red, drying off with a towel. “Thank You for bringing this to pass. And though it is only a small thing, thank You for the water being warm! Please forgive my doubting.”
Have a little faith, child, I remind myself, gazing at the wide, wide Red River. If it is His will, He will always make a way!
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