Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GET COLD FEET (10/12/17)
TITLE: Chicken Henry
By Phillip Cimei
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Henry had answered the call to give his heart to Jesus and wanted to comply with God’s word to be baptized. But it appeared his emotions overshadowed his obvious reservations of completesurrender.
During his immersion into the baptismal waters, his trembling right hand would raise up out of the water. He did that three times. The preacher, frustrated at this point, asked why he kept doing that. Henry, with a silly hillbilly grin, said, “That’s my chick’n steal’n hand.” So much for true repentance. As a fledgling evangelist, I snickered at the preacher’s story hoping I would never be faced with baptismal dilemmas. I was.
A few years later, one Wednesday night, God’s word had moved a young man to accept the Lord. And he wanted to be baptized. That night! Right then! No problem. Except, we needed water—no baptistry, middle of winter, and fifteen degrees outside. The Lord provides.
A sister congregation, forty miles away, had a baptistry. When we had arrived, and turned the baptistry water faucet on, frozen pipes. The young candidate was getting nervous. Think quick! No problem.
We took a butane torch and started heating the galvanized pipes. Problem solved. Soon water was flowing into the baptistry—bone chilling water. Yep. Problem!
The candidate had a frown on his face. The furrows in it deepened as he saw me enter the water. As I lowered my shivering body into the baptistry, the frigid water choked the breath out of me with a hissing sound like a deflating balloon. I looked up. My heart dropped.
The young man had exited the room. I let out a disheartened sigh followed by a quivering plea, “Heeelllllppppp hiiimmmmm Jeeessus.” It worked.
Directly, the young man returned. He stepped up on the ladder and was ready. He went to get a pair of socks. Like that would really help. It did. Welcome to the family of God. But this was a piece of cake compared to my next baptismal service.
Alderson was in the middle of nowhere. One particular Sunday, a young couple had approached me and requested my services to unite them in matrimony. The young man was not a Christian. I was very conservative and took II Corinthians 6:14 seriously, “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” No greater yoke than marriage.
After services, we visited about their commitment. I told them how it would take a unity of their spirits together with God’s Spirit to make this marriage work. They agreed, and the young man obeyed the call of the Lord desiring to follow through with baptism. No problem! (I say that a lot) All we need is water. I think I said that before, too!
Here we go dressed in our Sunday best heading to one of the member’s cow ponds. It was high noon, middle of the hottest months, and unbearably humid. Chattering locust greeted us. Were they welcoming us or warning us?
I still can visualize those Godly women—long dresses, pampered hair buns, and angelic faces—gasping as they scrunched under the barbed wire being held up by snickering husbands. The journey continued over the hay stubbled pasture. Every now and then you could hear, “Oh! Eeew! Gracious Lord in Heaven,” as heels would sink into fresh, steaming cow paddies. The grumbles turned into eye popping concerns.
There before us was a small, slime covered pond. Who knew what lurked beneath—cotton mouth snakes with sharp fangs, logger head turtles able to snap off fingers like twigs, or waist deep mud clamping a death grip, then sucking you under? Would the candidate flounder and back out? Would he ever arise out of this murk to walk in newness of life?
His fiancé gave him that You better not back out, or else look. He was ready. Mud squished between toes, slime clung, but mission accomplished. As he immerged with green yuk dripping, mud to his knees, and a look of victory on his face, he must have had the future Carry Underwood song, Something in the Water, on his heart, “I am changed and now I’m stronger. There must be something in the water.” There was.
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