Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in Pinson and Buck Creek Park in Helena have become two of our favorite places to enjoy nature and have fun as a family. We’ve spent several days this summer splashing in Buck Creek or sliding down the natural water slide at Turkey Creek. While each of those outings have provided us with some great memories, we have a creek trip scheduled for this weekend that is extra special.
Our three oldest children — Stone (9), Breeze (7) and Daisy (5) — are getting baptized this Sunday, and we’re doing it the old fashioned way — in a creek.
InnerChange, the community of sinners that we attend fairly regularly, meets in an old warehouse, so when we do baptisms, we either bring in a kiddie pool or we move our meeting to a nearby park. As a way to enjoy creation and celebrate baptisms, we are meeting this Sunday at Brackner Park in McCalla. Most folks in Walker County have probably never heard of Brackner Park. It’s a neat little place off Eastern Valley Road between McAdory High School and Tannehill State Park. We have held our Easter gatherings there for the last two years, and there’s something amazing about being able to worship God in His creation.
There’s a small creek that runs through Brackner Park, and that’s where we’ll baptize folks.
When my children first asked about getting baptized, I was a little iffy about it.
Did they really understand what they were asking about?
Did they even have the capacity to understand baptism?
As I pondered those questions, I thought about what Jesus had to say about children in Matthew 19. There were a bunch of children brought to Him in hopes that He might lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off, but Jesus stopped them and said, “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.”
Without meaning to, I was taking on the role of one of Jesus’ disciples in that scenario. My children were asking to come to Jesus, and I was questioning if they had what it takes to come to Him.
Andrea and I live out a simple faith. We’ve bought into the fact that Jesus told us all that above everything we should love God and love other people. Our children have also bought into that simple faith.
In Matthew 18, the disciples asked Jesus who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom. He responded by calling over a child.
“I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in,” Jesus told them. “Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom.”
A simple, elemental — even childlike — faith is what we’ve tried to teach our children. We’ve tried to teach them that kind of faith by living it in front of them.
It must be working, at least in some small way. The three oldest have come to us individually in recent months asking to be baptized. When asked why, each of them in their own way basically said, “Because we want to follow Jesus.”
Why do they want to follow Jesus? They don’t want to follow Him because he’s a ticket out of hell. They don’t want to follow Him to see relatives that have passed away. While those are good things, I think our bunch wants to follow Him because they know what He did. They know He had this amazing love that changed our world forever. They know He lived to be an example to us, and they know He died to save us.
They get it. I’m pretty confident that all children probably “get it” a whole lot more than most of us adults do.
Their baptism Sunday will be extra special for me, because I’m the one who gets to baptize them. I’ve also asked Andrea to be in the water with us, because she deserves much more credit than myself for anything to do with our children.
I’m so thankful for my family. God has blessed me much more than I deserve.
James Phillips is Editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at 205-221-2840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.