It’s raining outside today. Actually it’s been raining for 10 days straight. I love the symbolism of it all as I sit in my warm office space writing this series juxtaposed against the wind and rain outside. It reminds me of God’s promise to be with us always. He is our very present help in times of trouble, and there will be trouble. Get ready for this season, and brace yourselves. God may have used a gentle hand to empty your pockets and to pretreat a stain or two, but now it’s finally time. It’s time to enter the wash. Bring on the flood, Lord and wash away the stains of my past life.
I can vividly recall another time of beautiful symbolism in my life from 40 years ago. I remember my baptism as an eight year old at Starlight Baptist Church. My two buddies, Chris and Robert Kevin, were baptized as well that evening. I remember my mother taking me into a room to take off what I was wearing so that I could slip into something else before stepping into the pool. I was so scared but excited about what would happen next. Reverend Frank was already in the pool, so he took me by the hand as I walked down the steps, all the while trying to find my footing in waist-high water.
It happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to think or to run away. Down below the surface of the water, time seemed to pause as the congregants waited for me to emerge. When I did, cold water cascaded down my body, leaving me with chills — shaking from the coolness of the water and the start of a lifelong journey. My church family cheered and clapped much like I’m sure all of heaven erupted triumphantly at the start of my new life with God. A few moments later, I was in that back room again changing into a new white dress, white stockings, and white shoes. As I walked back into the worship center, I joined my buddies, and we were all presented to our church family as they sang “I Surrender All.”
I’ll never forget the day my journey began in that tiny church on Webb Street. I’ve walked with God from the age of eight — very closely at times and dawdling at others. Even in my disobedience, he gently called me back, hand outstretched and waiting to hold mine in his.
Today I ask you to submit anything that’s left — anything that doesn’t belong in the wash. For me it was the guilt of straying from the path that leads to life years ago. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the world has to offer — the glitz, the glamour, and the fame, but those things won’t last. In fact, when the floods come, it’ll all be washed away. I know that from witnessing what happened to my friends and family in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Hold onto the only thing that will last for an eternity — God’s hand.
Lord, we need the flood to wash us, to move us, to transport us to our destiny. We expect and are ready for some turbulence in our lives as we draw close to you. The enemy wants to deter us by reminding us of who we used to be — tethered to the world and all it has to offer. He won’t let us leave without a fight, and fighting is what’s required. So, let’s suit up and get ready to come face-to-face with the enemy’s fiery darts in all its forms. Jesus, I’m reminded of your sacrifice. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with your blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. May blessings abound in the name of Jesus! Amen.