Not our creek, but it looks very similar
Last Sabbath our little family trudged up and down the creek below our house looking for a place deep enough for Baptism. My Honey had not been baptized and neither had Miriam who is now 15. Jasmine was Baptized and walked in the way we taught her since then. She took her baptism very seriously when she was about 7 or 8. I was baptized at 12 but really never took it seriously and definitely didn't spend any time learning anything about the God I claimed to worship and who's Son I was identifying with in death as well as life in Baptism. I was a crazy teenager who rebelled "as teenagers do" or so I was lead to believe. Anyway, fast forward 28 years, and I too was Baptized in the creek. I have learned a few things- like read the bible for myself to know what kind of God we worship and what He expects of us and the like. So, here I am, one week from having been Baptized as a believer who wants to walk in the Way....having just lived a very hard week full of lessons.
Lesson #1Baptism when you are just doing some emotional thing or saying a "special prayer" that really is nothing more than some magic words only serves to get you wet.
At twelve, I had an emotional experience. I had learned that Yeshua (Jesus as some call him) was 12 whenever he stayed at the temple and talked to the people there and his family had to come back and get him, therefore the "age of accountability" was 12. Was He about his father's business? Yep. Did he go home with his earthly parents and be subject to them for the next 18 years? Yep. Does his walk in following the Torah as a teenager and a young man until He's 30 then the Holy Spirit descending on him following Baptism by Yochanon (John) put our idea of "teenage rebellion" in the same category of "Surely He doesn't mean you will really die?" that the serpent gave as an excuse to Eve thereby deceiving her? You bet. So, whenever a "conversion" is based on something that has built to an emotional crescendo (usually goes along with the music too), then say the magic words (aka- the "sinner's prayer"), get your name added to the roll at the church and everyone claps for you and pats you on the back, and someone hands you a Bible with your name in it, you have really not done anything at all. It was expected. It was "what you do at such and such age" and it's what I did.
No one told me to READ THE BIBLE AND TO DO WHAT IT SAYS because no one I know did that either. My baptism followed in the spring, in a cold river with a hand full of people. I went into the water, I got dunked, became wet, and walked out of the water, shivering and wishing I had brought a change of clothes. I went home and just kept living my life like everyone else I knew did. Mind you, this was a community church where everybody knew each other and everybody was related. I didn't have any expectations beyond that and so in the years that followed I did what everybody else did, only I did it more often and worse. Fast forward five years....joined the military.....got kicked out because of an "unexpected pregnancy" that sadly ended in miscarriage. Had I learned anything? Well, I learned in those years not to get caught doing what was deemed as wrong, but that was pretty much it. I left the ARMY and didn't come back home because of the shame it was to be pregnant and not married and actually heard the Gospel for the first time in my life! I had the privilege of staying on the campus of Columbia Bible College with the future daughter-in-law of my Army chaplain. I was too young to go to a home for unwed teen mothers (legally no one under 18 can check themselves into those places) so I was going to stay with her for a few months. I tagged along with her to listen in some classes and gatherings. I had never heard such things!! I had spent my life going to church but somehow none of this had been taught! I had even gone to Bible school, Sunday school, everything!!! So, long story short- my Baptism only served to get me wet back then.
Meekness is hard.
I have been studying scripture and actually doing some things the Christian church does not do (because it's in the scripture rather than traditions of the church) including homeschooling, wearing headcoverings, tzitzits, remembering the Sabbath and keeping it Holy every week, and studying the Bible at home. In fact we have studied scripture for literature, history, spelling, and every other subject. I still don't know it all though. As a homeschool Mom I have gathered many resources but one book in particular has been my go to every year for many years- Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell.
I love this book! Every single year I read it, I am convinced I need more help from the Lord!! This year is no exception. Our local homeschool group is reading this book. Last Tuesday we met to discuss the first chapter. Of course I couldn't find mine to read it this year and be up on the discussion, but I went and discussed anyway. Some of the very things about meekness that came out of my own mouth I ended up needing more and more as the week progressed. I'll tell you what- this meekness stuff isn't for the faint of heart! It's hard stuff! YHWH deals with our pride, our self-sufficiency, our belief in the way things ought to be, our relationships with parents, children, spouses, neighbors, telemarketers.... you name it, He has expectations that I will have a meek and quiet spirit within that circumstance and relationship. It's heartbreaking too to discover that after years of study, prayer, practice, pondering this, teaching it to my children, and discussing it with other. I am still so very in need of help in this area! I don't think this is one of those things a person can ever really "check off" the list of accomplishments because every single day- every hour- there is a new opportunity to practice this....to let it be in and fill my heart (from the only real source of meekness) and flow out to other. Whew! What a tough lesson!
No matter how much I like a person because they make me laugh, if they are directly teaching something that goes against God's Word, I cannot keep them as a friend (also known as bad company corrupts good morals).
It's so easy to be led astray. I struggle with not BEING that person who is contrary to God's perfect will all the time. I laugh at jokes that I know I shouldn't. I gravitate towards people who are sometimes hostile to God's Word by their actions if not by their words too. This is such a hard one! I'm sorry if I've been that person to you. I like other people- especially funny ones! Everybody is funny in some form or fashion really and who doesn't like a good laugh? But am I to laugh at things God calls sins? Should I make light of the very things He hates? Really, shouldn't I hate what He hates?? So, why is it so easy to laugh at things like that? I won't mention here what exactly I mean because it would not be good to spread that sort of thing, but really I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Haven't you ever had a person or people in your life that are just "good at heart" but their actions actually tell you something else? You can't help but like them and laugh at their jokes and even want to be around them.....but is anyone "good at heart?" The Word of God says no- we can't trust our hearts because they are deceitful above all else!! So what is my heart telling me? That I can trust them? That I can trust my own feelings about a person? So, who is "good" and trustworthy? Not one human being can claim being good. Yeshua the Messiah said "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." ~Mark 18:10 Hmmmm.... no one is "good at heart" no matter how I feel about them. I am not either and I can't even trust how I feel (my heart) about it.
Whew! Hard stuff!
So, in light of my list of lessons this week, what can I trust? Is there hope for the likes of me who is not meek? What can I do to have help in all of this?? Here is the hope I can have in my walk and learning and understanding:
"Trust in YHWH with all thine heart; and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3: 5-6
Is there anything easier and better than this?