It was hot, searingly hot, bone-crushingly, steal-your-breath hot. As a Florida boy, Patrick thought he knew hot. But the muggy heat of home couldn't compare to this Middle Eastern oven. He wondered if his end would be in this desert. For four days, he and his unit had been stuck at this staging area waiting for follow-up orders. Uncertainty and boredom made everyone edgy.
Patrick joined a makeshift bible study; six guys sprawled under the only available shade, discussing memorized scriptures. Thumper was the one currently talking. He had led Patrick to the Lord and was the unofficial group leader. Thumper was short for "Bible Thumper," a nickname intended to mock, but borne with pride.
Normally Patrick listened, trying to absorb as much as he could. He was amazed at how easily the Word rolled off the lips of these guys. He didn't think he'd ever know so much about the Bible. But today, he had something on his mind. "Umm, I've been thinking," he interrupted. "What about baptism? I've been saved for almost three weeks and I've been reading; aren't I supposed to be baptized? We don't know where we're going and we don't know if we'll come back. I want to be baptized if I'm supposed to be."
Everyone looked to Thumper. He was quiet a moment, then asked, "Do you know what baptism is?"
"I know Jesus did it."
"That's a good place to start. We follow His example when we're baptized. It says in Matthew that He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. But do you know what it is?"
"Not really, I just know that I'm supposed to do it."
Nate piped in, "Never do anything you don't understand. Then it's just stupid ritual. We're saved by Grace not action."
"Exactly," added Thumper. "You are saved whether you're baptized or not. So if you're worried on that score, don't be. Baptism is the public show of what happened to you inside when you prayed that prayer. You're showing everyone that you've turned from sin and to Jesus. We're doing what Jesus did. When you go under the water, it's like you're burying your sins. When you come up it's like when Christ rose again. You're a new creature."
"So I have to go under water?" Patrick asked.
"Well, that's the guideline," Nate said. "They have pits dug for that back at the base, but we can't do that here. You can wait or we can figure out something else."
"That would be okay?"
"Sure, we're not under the Law anymore."
"It's up to you." Thumper finished.
"I still want to be baptized."
The group brainstormed for a few minutes trying to figure out the best solution. Thumper's eyes fell on his canteen and he exclaimed, "I've got it. We can use our canteens."
The group agreed and, without debate, decided that Thumper should do the honors.
"Should I kneel?" Patrick asked.
"well, you're taller than me. I can't reach your head if you're standing!"
Patrick went to his knees and the group gathered around him. "Lord, please bless what we're doing here and bless Patrick as he says publicly He is yours," Thumper prayed.
"Amen," said the soldiers.
Thumper twisted the cap and upturned a full canteen over Patrick's head. Water gushed out and rolled down his cheeks and over his ears. This process was repeated two more times, water dripping from his hair and running down the shoulders of his uniform. "As Jesus said to do, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
"Yeah," screamed the men as they picked up Patrick, soggy fatigues and all. They smiled and slapped him on the back, saying "Welcome to the family, brother."
Nate ran to get Patrick a towel, but returned with a solemn face. "We've got orders," he said. "Breifing at 1100."
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be right now. CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.