My wife, Donna, wrote a lovely essay for our daughter, Sarah Grace, who was baptized yesterday.
To beloved Sarah on the occasion of your baptism:
Today is a joyful day! Of all the decisions your dad and I get to make this is the one we would most want to make and the one we absolutely cannot. It’s been your decision to give your heart and this life you’ve been given to God. And we are way happy about that.
There are three pieces of advice I want to share with you. First, keep your eyes on God. You and I have a nighttime prayer, “I lie down this night with God and God will lie down with me. I lie down this night with Christ and Christ will lie down with me. I lie down this night with the Spirit and the Spirit will lie down with me. The three of my love will be lying down with me. I do not lie down with sin nor will sin or sin’s shadow lie down with me. I lie down this night with God and God will lie down with me.”
We had prayed one night and I noticed some weird light over your bed and was trying to figure out what weird reflection it was, and you said with mustard seed faith, “Oh, I know what that is. That is the eye of God watching over me.” Not only have you recognized God’s eye, but you have had your eye on God as well and it shows.
When you were 6 years old, you would pray sitting in your bed with your face upturned, not disrespecting God but like you wanted to talk turkey with a friend with whom you were well acquainted.
Second, let God lead you out of your comfort zone.
Another decision you made for yourself when you were about 4 was that socks were an abomination to God and human feet. You gave them up for Lent and all time beyond and declared the right of toes to be free-flowing and unrestricted. Other than a brief relapse when you first fell in love with the game of soccer, you were resolute in your no-sock living.
Then, Christmas before last, Ms. Peggy asked you to play the lead role of Gabriele in the Christmas pageant, but horror of horrors, she said that all angels should wear tights. I felt sure this was a complete deal-breaker, but you said you would do it. I watched you on the morning of the Christmas pageant, pull on the loosest pair of tights I could find in the city of Louisville (and that’s not easy – there’s a reason they’re called tights), with your face a mixture of resolute determination and a look that suggested you’d eaten 50 lemons for breakfast. I have to admit I didn’t have the faith that you could do it.
But you donned those tights, the halo and trumpet, and I said to your daddy, “my goodness, that girl sure does love Jesus, doesn’t she?” Now I don’t know if all angels need to wear tights, but I do know that there will be other instances where God will ask of you something that is difficult and I encourage you to take a deep breath and follow where God leads.
Third, listen for the still small voice of God that only you will hear. You know, because you stand over by the piano with us every Sunday we do the Lord’s Supper, that your brother came up with his own song echo. So, Cindy Weber would sing “Come and dine the master calleth, come and dine” (and Jordan would sing in that increasingly deep voice ”Come and dine”), “you can eat at Jesus’ table all the time” (“all the time”), he who fed the multitude turned the water into wine, to the hungry now he calleth come and dine (“come and dine”).
You began to sing it, too, and Diane Moten and I could never refrain from smiling at that echo. This last Christmas as you sang with the other kids, you heard your own echo and harmony part and sang it and made Miss Peggy cry with joy upon hearing it. It just came to you because you were attuned and listening.
That’s what being a part of this church family is all about: singing all together, even while doing your unique part. Learning from the faith journeys of others even while you find your own special path in following God. Your dad and I will fail you, you know that we already have and we are sorry about that, but you have this huge church family that loves you and will support and challenge you and encourage you, even on tough putting on tights kinds of days. Lean on them and love them and learn from them.
A day will come and I hope not soon when you’d just as soon your dad and I take an extended vacation to Mars or places far beyond. When that day comes, look to these much less annoying and good people to hold the Christ light for you in the nighttime of your fear. They will keep you afloat.
So, today, know how very joyful we are at this decision you’ve made! Know how beloved you are by God, by us, and by this faith family!