The date was November 22, 1981. The place was First Baptist Church, Garfield; a little country church in Garfield, Arkansas.
I was 23 years old and it was the day that changed my life forever.
I didn't plan on walking down the aisle, I don't even remember taking the first step. All that I remember is that my feet took control and I was being drawn down the aisle by some invisible being.
It was the day that I gave my heart to Christ...and the best decision I have ever made.
I didn't think the moment could be more perfect until I looked up and saw my husband walking down the aisle towards me.
We accepted Christ...on the same day and were baptized the following week...on the same day.
Accepting Christ was the easy part...but being dunked under the water to be baptized was going to be a horrifying ordeal for me.
When I was 7 or 8 years old, we were swimming at the lake. A man was picking up his children and tossing them out into the deep area and they would swim back and wait to be tossed again.
When he turned around and saw me, he picked me up and tossed me into the deep water. The only problem was...I couldn't swim.
I went under several times. Each time hitting the bottom of the lake and pushing myself a little closer to the shore. Grabbing a quick gulp of air as I hit the surface and then going under again.
Thankfully, I managed to get myself to a shallow area where I was able to stand but it left me with a life-long fear of being dunked underwater.
As my baptism date drew closer, I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to go through with it. Thankfully, my desire to be obedient to Christ was stronger than my fear...at least I thought it was.
Ok...now you can go ahead and start laughing...I imagine it was a pretty funny thing to observe.
Just as the pastor started to dunk me under the water...I began to panic and I began to fight. I tried to push his hand away from my mouth.
Attempt #1 was a no-go.
However, on attempt #2, he took my little 107-pound body down with the strength of Samson. My feet were above my head and I fought him all the way.
After the baptism, he stood me up in front of everyone and I had to look at each one in the face.
Instead of feeling excited about following Christ in baptism, I felt instant embarrassment for trying to take the Pastor down with me.
What I heard next, however, surprised me. The Pastor was explaining to everyone that I had a deep fear of being dunked underwater due to a near-drowning when I was a child.
It turns out that my husband had spoken to the Pastor before our baptisms and warned him that I would fight. The Pastor had come ready to wrestle.
Thinking back, I am still embarrassed! I often think about what everyone must have thought..."She's was such a sinner that she fought it all the way."
However, God never misses an opportunity and that opportunity came many, many years later while I was teaching about baptism.
One little girl spoke up and said "Ms. Arlene, I have already asked Jesus into my heart but I am scared to be baptized because I almost drowned when I was young."
Because God had allowed me to experience something when I was a child...something that I have struggled with my whole life...and use it to teach a child who is struggling with the same thing is invaluable.
I was able to share my experience with the class and admit my struggles...yes, the entire baptism tag team match.
I was also able to tell her that when she is ready...God will help her conquer her fears enough to follow through in obedience...even though it might be scary...or embarrassing.
Never miss the opportunity to share a life experience with your children.
Our children need to know that we are human.
They need to know that we understand.
They need to know that we have struggles too.
They need to know that we are not perfect.
They need to see that we not only "wrestle" with fears...we can conquer them too.
I'm not sure who this message is intended for but when God awakens you at 1:00 and lays it on your heart to write...you don't bother wrestling with him...you just get up and do it! Because he is going to win every time :)
FYI - I still struggle with putting my face underwater...even the shower. Everyone knows my boundaries and respects them. Those boundaries are "do not push my head underwater." Out of survival instincts, I WILL come up fighting.
Always respect a child's fears. Don't push past the boundaries that they have set. Fears are real...and can last a lifetime. :)
Have a blessed day and try to keep your head above water! :)
I have prayed for each of you and now...it's back to bed!