1 John 5:4 (NIV) “…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”
This was a most memorable evening! If there had ever been a perfect weather night in Minnesota, this had been it. It was a Sunday night. We were at a large picnic grounds on a lake having our annual church picnic. We had over 6,000 people attend throughout the day. The little children had a great time in the petting zoo and riding the ponies. We had numerous inflatables for the kids of all ages to play on, and we really hit the bull’s-eye by offering free cotton candy to the children. The water in the lake was like invitingly comfortable and the food and fellowship and games were absolutely fun. We were especially blessed with a nice breeze that was just enough to keep the mosquitoes and flies away.
As evening came, we finished off the day with a praise and worship and water baptism service. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The sun was beginning to go down and the lake was picturesque – reflecting the tree line around the lake off the still water. The water was the temperature of bath water. It was the perfect evening.
We baptized over 250 people – one of them being the highlight of my day. If you have ever seen anyone accomplish a great feat and then wear a smile that was so big that it almost made their face crack, that is how I would describe one of those whom I water baptized.
There were four Pastors in the water conducting the water baptism. I was out in the water where those in my line waded out to me one after another. As I had just finished water baptizing a young lady, I looked up and saw a young man escorting a middle-aged gal out to me. She looked like she had trouble walking because she was holding on to his arm so tightly and walking so slowly. I called out to her telling her to take her time. There was no hurry.
When she finally made her way out to me, she explained that she could not bend her knees and wondered if I’d just throw some water over her. She was terrified of me bringing her backward into and under the water and lifting her right back out. She was afraid I’d not be able to hold her – fearing she’d sink like a rock. I assured her she had nothing to be afraid of because not only could I do it but the young man that helped her out to me was also going to help me. He and I comforted her, encouraged her, and reassured her repeatedly. She at last told us she was ready.
As I was speaking the words prior to baptizing her, she suddenly spoke “I can’t do this. I’m too afraid.” We comforted her further and assured her she would not be under the water for more than one second and that it would be easy and painless – actually it would be exciting as the Lord would touch her in a special way. I reminded her of a verse I taught and spoke to my children a thousand times as they grew up; “For God hath not given you the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7) I patiently talked to her about overcoming her fears through the strength of the Lord. She was encouraged and ready to try again. Again I was speaking the words prior to baptizing her when she again suddenly cried out, “I just can’t do this, I’m too afraid!” I would never pressure anyone to do anything they don’t want to do but deep down I sensed a strong desire within her to really want to be baptized this way. She just couldn’t get past this fear.
I encouraged her again telling her that she was about to defeat the enemy of her soul – the author of fear that had held her back from many things God wanted her to experience and be blessed with. “We will have you out of that water in one second’s time,” I assured her, “and you are about to experience the first of a series of victories in your life by overcoming your fears with your faith.” As today’s Fresh Manna verse says, “…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”
She again said she was ready. I did not hesitate a moment. “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” We brought her down and then right back up. That is when I witnessed one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. We were rejoicing and cheering and high-fiving her as those on the beach cheered her on. Some were crying they were so happy for her. This was her first of her many victories with her overcoming faith.
Victory is sweet! I am not talking about sports competitions or anything like that. I am talking about overcoming the fears that the enemy of your soul terrorizes you with to keep you from experiencing God’s best. It does take an effort in faith to experience them. For someone trying to shed a few pounds it takes the first, and second, and third, “no” to temptation. Each of those “no’s” become victories that add up and build momentum leading to larger victories.
To someone trying to rid themselves of a bad habit, or for someone trying to develop a good discipline like Bible reading and prayer – for someone trying to take on something in their life that God has been dealing with them about, the first and second “no” or “yes” are critical. But, each victory can lead to another when you lean on God in faith for His help. Then before long, you are the one that has overcome the world by your faith. You are the one that has a smile that is so big; it almost cracks your face.
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2009 Tim Burt, All rights reserved.