I AM THE DAD: Baptism, I had the best seat in the house.

Being a dad is an amazing journey that brings out almost every emotion imaginable. Most of the time I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. Often I think to myself, “whom am I to be a dad”. I feel inadequate. I feel immature. I feel unworthy. But then I look deep into my three children and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

I have been entrusted the precious gift of Emily, James and Andy. I have experienced so many great moments as a dad but this past Sunday was near the top of the list so far.

I had the privilege of baptizing Emily and James. Walking with them in their spiritual journey has been so sweet. Shelley and I have never pressured them but we have been very intentional to create an environment where the things of God are normal. We talk about the Bible. We pray together. We allow them to ask questions and have doubts. We talk about what it means to follow Jesus and live a life for him. But, we have never “put the squeeze” on them and forced them to do anything.

I know that the only One who can change their hearts is God.

As we have worked to nurture a home around the things of God and tried to model faith in Christ to them, we have seen God work in them. They can both tell you about how they came to faith in Christ.

Emily and James have both asked about being baptized for over year but we didn’t want to push them into that. It has been important to us that they understand what they are doing. We believe that nothing “magical” happens when you are baptized. It is a symbolic act of obedience. It is an outward representation of what has happened in their hearts. As we have told them many times, baptism is their public statement that they are followers of Jesus and want to live for Him.

There is no doubt in us that Emily and James are followers of Jesus. So, we asked them, “are you ready for everyone else to know.” And they both said, “yes.”

Sunday, September 20, 2015, they were baptized at Community Bible Church, Fort Smith and it was beautiful. What was even more special is that I was able to baptize them.

When the moment came, I held Emily’s hand and walked with her through the pack of kids sitting on the floor who had come into the worship center to watch. James followed. I helped Emily into the baptistery, which is literally a horse trough, and she sat down. At this point I began to get a bit choked up. I knew that I would. I am unapologetically a dad who cries at stuff.

When she sat down I kissed her on the head and whispered in her ear, “I love you and am proud of you.” She looked up at me sweetly as I asked her (through my tears), “are you ready for everyone to know that you are a follower of Jesus?” She said “yes”. As I slowly laid her back into the water, without thinking about it, I whispered the words “my sister”. That is who she is in Christ. My sister. As I raised her up from the water, representing the resurrection of Jesus, I let out a good “WHOO!”

I helped Emily out and James walked over and I helped him into the trough. I looked at my little man and kissed him on the head and whispered in his ear, “I love you and am proud of you.” He whispered back, “I love you too.” I think he felt sorry for me and all my crying. Then I asked James, “Are you ready for everyone to know that you follow Jesus?” And he said “yes”. Then I slowly laid him back, raised him up and let out a solid, “WHOO!”

It was beautiful. To be able to walk with them in their spiritual journey and then to be in that moment was such a gift. I was purposeful in laying them back slowly because I wanted capture every second of it in my mind. I also didn’t want to create a big splash thus electrifying our guitar player. I wanted to ingrain in my memory the moment they held their breath and closed their eyes. I wanted to capture the feeling of them holding on to my arm as I laid them back. I wanted see their sweet faces go into the water and come out.

I had the best seat in the house and it was a gift.

Now, my prayer is that we will continue to nurture a home that is around the things of God. I pray that the day will come when Andy will place his faith in Christ. I know they will make mistakes, but I pray that all three of them will be spared some of the choices I made growing up. I pray that they will love God’s Word. I pray that they will grow in their love for God and find joy in Him. I really love them!

I also pray that they will know, even though their earthly dad doesn’t know what he is doing, their heavenly Dad does and He loves them more than they can imagine.

What a good day.