I had the privilege yesterday of baptizing a young gal aged 7 yrs old. After my 4 year old witnessed this sacrament, he thought it appropriate to lead my 2 year old into the bath tub and baptize him. No word yet (happened while at youth group) on whether the preferred mode was sprinkling or immersion, though I’m hoping for the former (in the interest of safety just as much as in theology).
So you could say I, or rather we, have baptism on the brain. The next potential baptism might be a baptism based upon profession of faith, as opposed to the covenant baptism (based upon the profession of parent’s faith) yesterday.
She, like many, cannot point to a point in time when she was converted. The unwritten rule, or at least assumption, while I was in college was, “If you can’t tell me when you became a Christian, there’s a good chance you aren’t one.” Sadly this is probably the case in much of evangelicalism, and is probably an over-reaction to the mainline denomination’s lack of concern with being “born-again.”
The first time I really encountered anything other than this type of thinking was in seminary. My professor of evangelism named Steve Childers, who has led numbers of people to faith, and now runs G.C.A. (Global Church Advancement-a church planting/revitalization ministry) told me a simple prayer he had for his children: “I pray that they never know a day when they don’t remember trusting in Jesus to save them.” That sounded strange. Didn’t this guy get it?
But the more I studied, the more this seemed like a pretty darn good little prayer. First of all, the child will never be able to answer the question of why he/she is a Christian with a convenient date he/she prayed a prayer. Instead, he/she can only say, “I can’t tell you when it was that Jesus saved me, but my whole confidence is in the fact He did.” He/she can’t base the why of his/her salvation upon any sort of prayer or immediately concomitant drastic life change, but only upon the grace of God in Christ.
It is fine and dandy to have a date where you clearly remember being born again, but for the covenant child, that is not often the case. At least it shouldn’t be. And it is not simply for the baptized child because whether or not the child has the sign/seal upon him/her, he/she is still a covenant child.
I enjoyed reading such a testimony from this gal. It wasn’t drastic. It wasn’t crazy. It wasn’t long. In some ways it was boring, but it was also beautiful. She didn’t wrestle alligators by day and deal meth at night. She couldn’t remember when God saved her, but she was certain that He did. She recognized she was a sinner and needed the grace offered to her freely in the gospel.
Simple but still beautiful. I like hearing about a Professor of Lesbian studies come to faith, get married to a pastor and have a family. But I like hearing “boring” testimonies as well.
Every night I pray for my boys the same prayer I heard in seminary, that “these two boys would never know a day where they don’t know the saving love of Christ.” They don’t need to pray a special magic prayer but simply repent and rest upon the saving work of Jesus.
However God decides to use this prayer is up to Him. I don’t get a vote but I do get a prayer and covenant promises to go with it. In the end, I’ll take any testimony my kids share that points to Jesus. Drastic or “boring,” now or later. It’s always best to leave it to the author, founder, and perfecter of children’s faith.