Sometime last year I sat here in my office and did my best to think of an analogy that explained baptism. I knew that baptism didn’t bring about salvation on it’s own, but I knew it was more than just a little ceremony. Taido and I wanted to communicate clearly that something significant occurs during that experience. It’s not that a personal relationship with merman Jesus is found somewhere under the water, but that something more than nothing takes place. The best we could come up with was graduation.
When a senior walks across that stage and accepts their diploma, they become a graduate. I know, technically, they’ve graduated long before. With all the tests turned in, scores calculated, credits counted and GPA maxed out. But the walking across, cap and gown and all, does something. Something that holds deep significance.
I used the analogy at the time and felt pretty good about it. I watched a few students get baptized a few weeks later. Their hearts full and bursting with pride. I knew something was taking place right before my eyes. You couldn’t put a finger on it. Certainly couldn’t calculate anything about it. But there it was. Plain as day for everyone to see. Significance.
On Monday night, I got to see that analogy in action. I watched as several of our students walked across the stage at their own high school graduation. Some, too cool for school at other times, couldn’t help but smile as they walked across the stage. They’d already earned their degrees, but now they were able to hold on to them. With parents and brothers and sisters and friends watching, they moved their feet in one swift direction toward the next phase of their lives. If you watched their faces, which I did on the big screen, you could see the transformation take place with each step forward. With nearly every single student. No one could contain it. If you could bottle up “graduation” and sell it as a drug, you’d make a lot of people proud and happy. And you’d let them know what deep significance feels like.
Baptism and Graduation are both outward expressions of an inward reality. Something has happened to us or is still taking place within us, and we have to let it out. For the world to see. And that sort of expression pulls something out of us that we aren’t quite able to quantify. Pure, unadulterated joy. A moment has been marked. A landmark has been laid down.
Makes me wonder if there’s anything brewing inside all of us, at all times, that we should get out. We walk around sometimes like closed containers. Maybe pry the lid open up a bit. Share your real heart with the rest of us. When you don’t hold back, when you let it all go, that bliss is pretty beautiful to witness.
Freedom found in faithful fortitude.
When the world would love to hold you down, when circumstances could pull you down into the depths of apathy, it’s inspiring to see you fight back with bold outward expressions of inward realities. That is where significance is found.
Deep, long lasting significance.