I knew what my students were going to ask me next. I was dreading the question- and then it happened.
“Tracy- when were you baptized?”
And there the question was, hanging in the air like the Goodyear Blimp.
“I uh, well… I haven’t been,” I answered.
“Well, why don’t you get baptized when we do? That would be so awesome.”
Yes, it would be awesome. Except that it meant I had to get up on stage in front of everyone. That meant I had to speak and share openly about my love for Jesus Christ into a live…
I had never done that before.
My girls had not either.
And yet, I was asking them to declare their faith publically. Despite my mounting anxiety, I knew it was time for me to do the same.
I was baptized along with the group of teen girls I mentored. As I walked down into the tub of frigid water, I became aware of the large expanse of faces looking back at me. I became anxious and began to share… a lot. What should have been a 1 minute declaration of the saving work of Jesus Christ in my life, turned into a mini sermonette, on what I cannot exactly remember.
I do, however, remember:
- the indescribable joy and peace that flooded my heart after the pastor brought me under and then up out of that frigid water.
- that the Pastor chuckled when my mini sermonette was finished. He then said something like “well…it looks as though we have a future speaker for ministry events in the making here.” Ironically, that same pastor was in a seminary class of mine a few years later. I made sure to remind him of his words to me at my baptism since they turned out to be prophetic!
- one face in the crowd that stood out. Her face was beaming, and her blue eyes filled with tears and love. This face belonged to my mother. She prayed for years for this moment. She was so proud of me.
The power behind a parent’s presence
My parents made every effort to attend my ballet recitals, drill team performances, and track meets. I kept them busy. I assume that after a long work day, neither of them were looking forward to spending their evening at the dance studio, or recording my relay race through a tiny camcorder window, but they did it anyways.
My mother was not a master chef, and my dad could not afford to buy me what the world considered “designer” items. My life, however, was nourished and rich because of their presence and love. I knew I was loved and significant because my parents gave me their time.
However, I moved away after college. At the time I was baptized, I lived 1100 miles away from my parents. The miles between us and heightened travel costs often prevented them from cheering me on in person every time I received a promotion or had a birthday. But when they heard of my impending baptism- they purchased airfare tickets and came.
I found my mother’s smile among the sea of unfamiliar faces. I felt her love as I stood in the frigid water. I heard her love for me reiterated as we celebrated that evening.
My parents returned home the following day.
They spent all of that money to see me for a couple of hours. Their actions spoke volumes to my heart. Not only did they travel that far because they loved me, but to them, the act of me publically declaring my faith and salvation in Jesus Christ was priceless. The travel costs no longer mattered- they had to be there to witness the fruit of their prayers.
Their presence was powerful. Their presence indicated to me the significance of my faith.
I hope I never forget the power behind giving my own children my presence. As they continue to mature, I can easily hand them toys or money to communicate that I love them. Money is spent, and toys break. Memories of mommy cheering them on and smiling at them in the audience cannot be thrown away or become broken.
My presence will leave an imprint of love. An imprint that teaches what is significant.
As parents, we can make the lives of our children rich with the simple gift of our presence. No matter how long the work day is, your child will remember that you bought the airfare, sat in a sweaty dance studio, or recorded their squeaky Jr. High orchestra performance on your smartphone.
Your presence is powerful- so give of it freely.