Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)
TITLE: Rings Around My Finger
By April Bailey
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I’m not sure what it was about baptism that scared me so much as a child. Something about the pastor’s robe, the grab of the parishioner, and that sudden thrust into the water. It seemed so aggressive, and looked a lot like an attack to my seven-year-old eyes. I decided then, that was never going to happen to me.
That feeling—and my trepidation—stayed with me into young adulthood, lying dormant, a moot issue in my secular life. I found my way home at age 23, joining the family of God in a church where no one wore robes (I’d kind of gotten over that fear, although still wasn't a fan of them). I even attended a couple of baptismals, fully content as a spectator, quick with a “No!” if anyone sought my participation. I’m saved. Why do I need to get baptized?
By 29, I’d married, found a job in Christian publishing, and become an active youth leader in my church. With another baptismal just a month away, my husband asked me if I wanted to do it this time. Again, I declined, secretly asking God to show me how He felt about the matter. Then I left it alone.
Friends and family had begun raving about a revival in a Toronto church, and my husband and I went there for a few days to check it out. My unusual phobia was the last thing on my mind.
As we readied ourselves for bed on our first night in the hotel, my husband did something he’d never done before. Without a word, he removed his wedding band and set it on the nightstand. Then he climbed between the sheets and settled in.
I could have been rational. I could have read nothing into his action or justified it with Maybe his fingers are swollen. But no. Quietly, inwardly, I went ballistic. Speculating about his motives, emotions bombarded me. Anger pursed my lips, worry caused a surge in my pulse, despair brought tears to my eyes, until a gentle “Ask him” rustled my spirit.
“Honey?” I bit my lip.
“What’s this?” I pointed. “Why’d you take off your wedding ring?”
He turned and glanced at it. “I … I don’t know.” He yawned, perfectly blasé, and snuggled back against his pillow.
“But,” I whispered, staring at that lonely gold band, “it’s a symbol of our commitment.”
My husband closed his eyes and enjoyed the promise of sleep, oblivious to his part in God’s tutelage. Sometimes we don’t realize we’re dwelling in darkness until the lights are turned on, and my very words had flipped the switch in my spirit. Just as wedding rings are symbols of a couple’s commitment to each other, so baptism is a symbol of a believer’s commitment to God.
God used my husband to show me how He felt, and I listened, signing up for the upcoming baptismal at my church when we returned from Toronto. My childhood fear had been cast aside and replaced with understanding, allowing me to see the beauty in the ceremony.
On December 3, 1994, I made my public declaration of love to the Lord at my own baptism, and I shared with the congregation how God led me to the truth. After the service, my husband sat with me, pulling out a small box from his pocket.
“What’s this?” I asked, noting his serene smile.
“God told me to give it to you.”
On my ring finger, I now wear three bands. The engagement and wedding ring set from my betrothed, and the new gold band from God, a symbol of His love and His desire to have everyone know I belonged to Him.
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