Sunday 21st April – 4:30pm
Buzzing with anticipation, I’m sitting in my living room chatting away with my family, all full after a brilliant lamb roast made by Dad. Then Mum comes in and asks whether everyone is ready to celebrate my new-birthday. Confused, I’m told to sit in the middle of the floor and await further instruction. I didn’t know people had bought me cards and gifts?! All the messages were lovely and my lil gifts were beautiful. Mum and Dad had also bought me The Message (a Bible in contemporary language) and had written a verse for me on the inside cover.
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us – an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!Romans 8:15-17
I thought it was perfect for me. It pretty much sums everything up that I’d been contemplating lately. Bish, bash bosh style!
Sunday 21st April – 5:30pm
Lights, camera, ACTION! I went about collecting everything I needed for the service (including spare underwear – not that I ended up needing it). My friend, Hannah, had asked for a lift, so we left quite early to collect her. When we arrived at the church, I suddenly became quite nervous. Not about being dunked, but about standing up and talking. Luckily, I knew this would happen, and had prepared something to say in advance. As people arrived, my nerves were converted to pure excitement – and it was visible! My friend, Max, kept commenting on how happy it was making him to see me so happy! Once the church had filled, I took a look around and witnessed something very rare. Overlapping circles. Friends from church talking to family on my mum’s side. Family on my mum’s side, chatting with family on my Dad’s side. Family on my Dad’s side laughing with my church leaders. My church leaders being introduced to my school friends. My school friends being reunited with my friends from outside of school. It was actually beautiful. There wasn’t anywhere I could look without seeing people I loved.
Sunday 21st April – 7:00pm
The service started brilliantly. Matt always knows how to make everyone feel at ease. We sang in some worship and even though I knew lots of people wouldn’t know the words, the level of noise didn’t seem at all diminished. After that, all 9 of us lined up and gave our testimony about why we wanted to be baptised. I’ve provided my notes below 🙂 (unfortunately, WordPress has told me my videos aren’t compatible :/)
Then, one at a time, ladies first, we got baptised. I remember watching the people in before me and feeling the weight of the moment. I was almost brought to tears for one of them and I remember thinking to myself ‘if you’re in tears now, what are you gonna be like IN there!’ So I asked mum to have some tissues ready discreetly. When it came to my turn, Darrel climbed in with me because I’d requested him be the one to help Matt baptise me. I didn’t trust Matt not to hold me under, you see. I’d splashed him in the eye as I got in and I’m not sure whether he thought I did it on purpose or not! In the warm water, I stood by the edge, crossed my arms over my chest and closed my eyes. As we waited, I didn’t feel anything in particular and then Matt prayed for me in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Squidoosh. Even though I had my eyes closed, I could see the light ripple to darkness and back to light again over my eyelids. Actually, I don’t remember it going dark, but I do remember the dark becoming light. This was significant. My new life had truly begun. As I came up, immediately Matt prayed for me. “Father, thank you that you’ve set him on a highway of holiness from Isaiah 35, and the desert and the dry ground will become pools and springs and things will grow there like an oasis. Lord, you’ve started that in his life, and you’ve set him on that journey. Peter, wherever you go, you are going to be setting up oases for the kingdom of God.” Those were the first words said to me ‘on the other side’ (if you will) and I keep them close to my heart.
Then David said “I believe He’s saying that He’s going to show you pathways you never could have imagined, and I believe He’s going to show you ways and teach you things that you will never humanly understand. And I believe there’s a wonderful sense of calling, a wonderful sense of drawing in your life, that’s the work of the holy spirit. So Heavenly Father, we pray that for Peter, You would show him Your ways, and teach him Your paths. We pray that You would surprise him with what You show him and where You take him.” I want to make a record of all of these so that when events take place in the future, I can look back and see that God had it planned all along. I am so excited for what God has in store for me!
The next word for me was very interesting. Darrel told me after the service that he’d already written Psalm 139 on a slip of paper and put it in my envelope to take home. Without having conversed with Matt, while I was in there, Matt spoke parts of Psalm 139 over me. How amazing! Here’s what God wanted me to hear in that moment: “‘You hem me in behind and before me’, wherever you turn, He is there. He’s not gonna let you go.” Then Erica said she heard God prompt her towards Proverbs 4:18 “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun; shining ever brighter until the full light of day.”
Jo had a wonderful picture given to her of me sitting in one of those really fast cars in America; revving my engine on the road through the desert off into the sunset like in the movies. I’m just sitting there and then vroom! I’m off! – I feel like this picture might be about the same thing Matt’s first word for me was about, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see! Charley was last and she gave me the same passage she gave me three years ago, which suggests to me that it will always be something I need to remember: “1 Peter 5:7 ‘Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.’ So no matter how stressed or how terrible things can seem, He’s there and He’s just so present. He just cares so much for you.” I feel very blessed to have such a prophetically gifted church family. Every single word resonated with me to the point where there was no denying it’s truth. Thank you, God for speaking through everybody.
As I got out of the pool the only thing I was aware of was, this all consuming love that surrounded me. I was not blubbering and I wasn’t overly-emotional. It sounds cliche, but it was just peace. I felt so at ease, that I completely forgot to change and I just stood dripping on the rug unashamedly worshipping amongst agnostic and some, even atheist, friends that I might ordinarily fear judgement from. Max told me afterwards that he loved seeing me worship and I looked “really into it” haha! One of the best parts of the evening was speaking to everybody afterwards. No one seemed shy and everyone looked to have enjoyed it – no matter what they believed. And I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. I tried my best to speak to everyone who had turned up to support me and again, I loved seeing all my different circles interact. If I could sum up the night in a word it would just be ‘love’.
We were the last out (of course) and I took home my envelope with all the words, pictures and messages people had for me inside it along with a couple more presents; one from Charley and one from my cousin Matt (so many Matts!). At a later date, I might insert a slideshow here so that you can see them all without having to write all of the verses out. What. A. Day!
[Bank Holiday] Monday 22nd April – 10:00am
My family, along with my Dad’s visiting side and my Uncle Jon’s (Mum’s brother’s) family, all met for a celebratory breakfast at Cafe Rouge. We had laughs and chatted about faith, school/uni life and the upcoming birthdays in the family. I was, and still am, very joyful about the whole thing. I pray that with the hard exam season approaching, I would always be reminded of this joy. The joy of the Lord is my strength. Which reminds me… Finally, getting back to school, I hope she won’t mind me saying, but Hannah had a word for me too. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” And that concludes my baptism story!
…or does it? Dun Dun Daaaaaaaaa! This is only the beginning of a very long story that I hope to capture, both though this blog and eventually via other means also.
Thank you for reading,