“Just don’t push me into it, OK?” my teenage daughter snapped. She flashed her green eyes at me, a warning not to pursue the topic.
“If not now, when, Kelly?” I demanded.
“I need some more time to think about it.”
“We have to know your decision by this afternoon.”
Crossing her arms she set her lips in that all too familiar stubborn line.
“Your Dad will be disappointed, you know.” I bit my lower lip to keep from uttering the remainder of my thoughts, that I was even more disappointed.
“Who is this for, Mom?” retorted Kelly. “Is it a show for Pastor Saunders and all the rest of the church?”
“You know better than that. At least, I hope you do,” I answered.
Kelly rolled her eyes. In a mocking voice she said, one hand on her hip, “So if I go through with this, they can say, ‘Now that she’s baptized, Kelly Lawson’s bound for Heaven. One more for our side!’”
“That’s unfair, and you know it. Baptism doesn’t save you,” I softened my voice. “I thought you were serious last Sunday about surrendering your life to the Lord.”
“I was,” she replied in a more thoughtful voice. “I was then, but a whole week has gone by, and I don’t ‘feel’ changed anymore.”
“Kelly,” I argued, “Feelings are deceptive. You can’t base your faith on them. Baptism is the next logical step to tell others of your choice.”
I sighed. “Okay, Kelly. But at least come with us to the lake this afternoon for your uncle and aunt’s baptisms. Maybe you can talk to Aunt Lynn about it.”
Kelly nodded and sauntered into the living room. I wondered if anyone could persuade Kelly to be baptized.
Three hours later, we were on our way to the public beach. Reflecting on our conversation, I wondered if Kelly wasn’t right to wait. Baptism was a serious commitment, not to be done rashly. I had prayed for so long that Kelly, the last of my children to confess the Lord as her Savior, would respond to the Master’s call. I would have given up my own salvation just to know that my entire family was saved.
Dean, my husband, parked the station wagon at the end of a row of cars. I recognized Pastor Saunder’s van and Uncle Dave and Aunt Lynn’s Toyota compact, along with the vehicles belonging to the elders of the church.
Kelly slumped in her seat, scowling. “I see the gang’s all here.”
Dean exchanged a glance with me. I just shook my head. Dean and I got out of the car. Kelly shrugged and did the same.
She went ahead of us toward the beach, probably hoping to see some of her friends and slip away from the ceremony.
Aunt Lynn, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘Ask me about my Savior’, stepped toward Kelly and squeezed her tightly. I led Dean toward the nearest picnic table on the beach.
I tried not to watch but I couldn’t help but sneak a look. Aunt Lynn was gesturing toward Pastor Saunders with a radiant look on her face. Kelly was biting her lower lip and I thought I saw tears in her eyes.
Then I saw Kelly embrace Aunt Lynn. They stood swaying slightly arms around one another. As our pastor and two elders waded out into the lake water, Kelly and Aunt Lynn separated. Aunt Lynn stroked Kelly’s hair tenderly, said one or two more words, and then kissed her on the top of her head.
Uncle Dave waded out to be baptized first. One elder on either side of him, he was laid back in the waters, submerged, and then raised.
“Alleluia!” Uncle Dave shouted as he raised his arms in a type of victory salute.
As he slogged back to shore, Aunt Lynn walked toward Pastor Saunders. As she turned to face the spectators she gave Kelly a brilliant smile and a thumbs up signal. Then she, too, was submerged to re-emerge laughing with sheer joy.
Kelly hesitated, then made her way to where we sat. She knelt in front of me, her hands clasping mine.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” she whispered. “I was afraid, but Aunt Lynn promised to pray for me that I will be ready next time.”
“Will you be?” I questioned.
“Does God answer prayer?” smiled Kelly.
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