“When can I get baptized, mom? When can I? When can I?” My mama heart swells up and I’m mentally envisioning the moment already. But I have to pause and ask… WHY though, buddy? What do you think it means? “I don’t know… just because I want to be a better listener… and it makes you closer to God”, he mumbles.
Thankfully, I think to seek the wise counsel of the amazing leaders that teach him on Sundays. And the gracious response is more wisdom than I even knew to ask for… “Try to explain to him that just getting baptized isn’t going to automatically make him a good listener… and try to teach him that the way you’re really going to get closer to God is by talking to him daily, reading your Bible, etc. We ideally want them to understand that Baptism is an outward expression of their love for Jesus and their choice to follow him from that point forward”. I quietly put down the phone… Okay… well I thought I was asking for a friend. Apparently, that friend is also me. Frankly, I think I wanted that quick fix too. I kind of wanted to support his idea of getting two-second dunked and then forever being close to God… I’d be more than happy to just to seal the deal and get it done… to check off a box and never have to worry about him going astray in life… That doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Many of us have good intentions, but who doesn’t want easy? I do. Yes please. Where do I sign. Undoubtedly, we can be well-meaning products of an instant-gratification culture with its fleshly desires running deep in our veins.
Some examples for consideration…
After a week of working out, we want to see defined, fat-free muscles and for all the unnecessary “extra” to simply fall off.
After a few months of wedded bliss, we expect to never need or give undeserving grace to our partner.
After a month of saving, we want to be millionaires and travel around the world in our paid-for yacht.
After a few generations of fighting for national independence, we don’t need to work for unity anymore… and go about endlessly fighting each other for individual independence.
After just one answered prayer, we expect to never have to seek God’s help to that degree of desperation again.
We want it all.
We want it now.
And we want it easy.
But where’s the gratitude in that? Where’s the surrender in “I’ll get what I want by only doing it the way I want”?
Is it all too easy?
Is it so easy that we’re focused on the outcome instead of the celebration of what the outcome means? If so, what are we celebrating? Another accomplishment that we knew we could easily manage? Another notch in our belt of success that took minimal effort? Does the thing of value that we want… take an equal amount of value from the things that we have?
We don’t get immediate results so we give up. We lose our focus and forget to fix our eyes on Jesus and his promises. We get lost in the hustle of just getting things done and miss out on the character and relationship we could be developing with him… one step at a time.
Jesus made it clear, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
No, it certainly won’t be easy. But he won’t just leave us at a dead end, following the command of a stranger and asking “what’s next”. He longs to be the friend walking alongside us as we gather as many people as possible… sharing the unexplainable joy, peace, and goodness we have in him. Be it easy or not. He has given us free will to wholeheartedly follow him… or not. And he wants to know our heart is to follow a savior and friend because we long to be in his presence through the journey. And not just because we want the golden ticket at the end.
See, there’s just no room for quick fixes if you want true life-changing transformation. For you and those around you. Stop giving up and start giving gratitude for the process. The process he fought for, to overcome death and to bring us eternal life. By no means an easy process. But an incomparable and rewarding one.