Water is the most common substance on the planet. It is ubiquitous in its prevalence in our lives. Oceans, lakes, streams, creeks, ponds and puddles. For many of us, water is around the next corner, or a turn of the nearest faucet. Scientists tell us that more than 70% of the earth’s surface is slathered in it. We drink it, bathe in it, walk through it and complain when there is too much or too little of it. Water is entirely ordinary.
Except, of course, when it is not.
Combine water with a sharp descent from an aspen covered mountain grove and you get one of nature’s most extra-ordinary sights, a waterfall. Mix a salty flow with one part coastal shore and two parts lunar pull to witness the relentless might and thunder of the ocean waves. Again, extra-ordinary. Or observe stratospheric droplets from a cool summer shower refracting late-day sun into the glorious display of an afternoon rainbow. Decidedly not ordinary.
This past weekend I was blessed to participate in another of water’s exceptional transformations. My family met two other families in Estes Park, Colorado for one last gasp of summer camping. It was wonderful. The kids ran, played and generally terrorized the other campers. While us adults, ate, drank and laughed lots. It was exactly what was needed.
On Saturday we loaded everyone up and headed into Rocky Mountain National Park. The Aspen were turning, the air was crisp and the kids were behaving. It was truly glorious. Our little three-car-caravan traveled through the park gates and eventually to the East Alluvial Fan parking lot. After a quick snack of cinnamon covered almonds we led the troops on a short ramble to the base of the waterfall. As some of the older kids crested the hill you could hear audible gasps and giggles as they responded to the beauty before them.
“Wow! Mommy, Daddy, come and see!”, was heard over and over.
For the next thirty minutes we clambered, climbed and splashed in the cool autumn spray. Time slowed down a bit as we soaked in the pure joy of the moment. One of the dads, Jason, then pulled me aside and asked if he and his wife could get baptized. “Of course you can!” I said. After taking a few minutes to find a good spot, and to allow my wife time to get just the right camera angle, I had the amazing honor of baptizing Jason and Jodi in the presence of all our families.
Combine two public confessions of Christ with the most ordinary substance on earth and you get the extra-ordinary sacrament of baptism. Basic, simple, common water is transformed into the symbolic grace, mercy and restoration offered to all who have accepted Jesus’ invitation of salvation. As Watchman Nee so plainly stated, “Baptism is an outward expression of an inward faith.” Baptism then is a powerful mechanism transforming the most common substance into an uncommon symbol of man’s acceptance of God’s glorious gift. Extraordinary.
If you believe in me, come and drink! For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within. John 7:38 NLT
If you never have, I challenge you to embrace the act of baptism. Experience firsthand the uncommon waters of renewal and rebirth.