3 weeks ago I did something rather strange, following in the footsteps of someone else who had done the same thing a few weeks earlier. Like Naaman in 2 Kings 5, I was dipped 7 times, only not in the river Jordan, but the bapstistry of the King’s Centre, Aldershot. I had listened to Jan’s testimony after her 7-fold dipping, and several parts of it had spoken to me, including a passage she read about the undragoning of Eustace from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C S Lewis, which closely mirrored something God was already saying to me.
However, I didn’t immediately sign up to follow suit, mainly because I didn’t want to jump on the latest bandwagon, but only to hear from God and follow His direction. Over the next couple of weeks, I actively spent time asking God if this was something He wanted to use in my life as He clearly had in Jan’s.
Then I had a counselling session in which I was asked to describe how I saw my journey, the future that I’m now facing post-divorce. I felt as if I had let go of the future I thought I was going to have and which I wanted all along, in which God would redeem our marriage and we would have a future together which was radically different from our past. That didn’t happen, and I had to let go of that, and instead there was a doorway into another future, very different from the one I thought I was going to have, but very good nonetheless. But I felt as if, instead of going through that doorway, I had fallen into a black hole somewhere between the two. As we allowed the Holy Spirit to explore that with us, I had a picture of myself standing outside that doorway to the new future, and it wasn’t that I had fallen down a black hole, it was that I was still carrying so much baggage on my back that I just couldn’t fit through the doorway. I went through a process of naming the things I was still carrying and putting them down, and then went through the doorway. I closed that door on everything I had put down, and asked Jesus to lock it so that no one could open it again.
At once I knew that this Naaman-like dipping was the next step. It was not a baptism – I had been baptised into the Body of Christ as a teenager, and God has honoured that, as He always does. This was not a case of being re-baptised. The thing that spoke to me about Naaman’s story was that Naaman emerged with his skin made new like that of a little child, and God was speaking to me about the need for me to go through a process of casting off all the adult stuff that has made me hard and cynical and become childlike again, rediscovering an innocent simplicity in my walk with Him.
Some changes we become aware of immediately; others emerge over time as the result of a process. Immediately after the dipping I knew the Holy Spirit had done something in me, sealing what had happened earlier when the door was closed on everything that had been holding me back. I experienced an immediate release in prayer, a new freedom to come to my Father in that childlike simplicity I had been longing for. I felt like a baby just starting out with everything to learn.
False images of God which I had struggled with fell away as He revealed to me afresh His tender heart of compassion, and the loveliness of Jesus. Habits and temptations which had kept me from Him, or behind which I had been hiding, were broken. These things I knew immediately.
One other thing has emerged over the three weeks since then. I had every expectation that this event was going to change me and affect my future. If I hadn’t had that faith, I wouldn’t have bothered going through with it. But what has surprised me is that it has also changed the way I view my past. Things that previously were just painful memories have taken on a different aspect. The adventure I thought I was setting out on didn’t materialise, but I have been on a very different adventure instead. It has made me the person I am today, and who knows where it will lead me in the future?
How exciting! And what an amazing God we serve, endlessly creative in His ways of reaching and changing us, infinitely capable of surprising us and doing exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or even dream of.