By: Pastor Jackie Roberts
Did you die in the water? I know it’s a strange question, right; however, if you keep reading it gets stranger – I had a dream – (told you) – In my dream I was baptizing myself in a pool somewhere. The man in my dream didn’t look like me but I just knew it was me. (I told you it was weird, right?) So in my dream it was night. I could see other people there near the pool, but I am not sure they were there for me. I jumped in the water and had this feeling that I must stay at the bottom of the pool for a long time. Have you ever felt how peaceful it is under the water, no noise just perfect silence and peace?
Anyway, the next scene in my dream is the man that I know is me, but doesn’t look like me, being held between two other men while they carry me/him off to the looney bin. I watch in my dream as he/me is carried off screaming over and over, “I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die!” Suddenly, I hear a narrator’s voice, clear and deep ask the question– “Did you die in the water?”
Immediately, it was like someone turned the light on and I could see for the first time in a long dark night. Images were flashing through my mind, things that I previously had not understood, I see clearly, maybe for the first time. I was no longer asleep but awake, I was awake to something that I believe the Spirit of God was showing me. If you keep reading, I will try to relate what I believe the Spirit was impressing on me. I know it doesn’t make sense yet; however, if you just come along with me, I will show you what I mean.
Paul said in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Jesus promises us that if He begins a good work in us He will complete it. I believe a big part of that is dying. I have watched people be baptized for better than 20 years and I believe I have seen those that died in the water and rose with Christ; however, that was not me. Let me tell you my story…
I grew up in the church, I have always known John 3:16, I have been grounded in scripture from my first memory. I was baptized in church as a child, with childlike faith and it was a beautiful thing. I served Christ as a child and young man traveling with a group called, “Encouragement.” We traveled all over California to smaller churches that needed encouragement and we gave testimonies, concerts, and shared the Word of God with any that would listen. I would say that I was the poster boy for sold out, trusting, abiding, non-compromising, disciple. This was the end of the beginning, but not the end of the story.
A few years later everything changed. You see God allowed something in my life to show me what I still lacked, but instead of pressing into him I shouted, “This is not what I want in my life, this is not part of my plan, this is not what is best for me!” I rebelled against Him and was filled with wrath. I wanted everyone to hurt like I hurt. This rebellion lasted for 13 years and caused a lot of damage in my life. Rather than receiving the potters plan for me I took up the sword of destruction and went on a rampage hitting everything I could touch. No one that knew me was left unscathed if you were close to me you were at best witness to the destruction and at worst one of the casualties. For 13 years I flung destruction in my frustration against what the potter allowed in my life, but I never got anywhere. Life was moving from one hurt to another until I ran into an enemy I knew I couldn’t defeat.
I will never forget the single wide trailer in Midway Park in Jacksonville, North Carolina where I knelt before my potter and died. Finally, I was crucified with Christ and now I could live by faith in the one that loved me and gave Himself for me. It was then I began to see –
A rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him a question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ The young man said, “I have done this from my youth” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. What Jesus was telling this young man had less to do with money and more to do with his life. In Gal 2:20 Paul states that he has been crucified with Christ, that is what Jesus is asking the rich young ruler – “Will you trade your wealth for an old rugged cross? Will you die to your dreams, desires, your life, so that I might raise you up a new creation? Will you let go of all you have, to hold onto me?”
Sometimes we come out of the water of baptism and we have given intellectual assent to the idea that I am crucified with Christ and because God loves us, just like the rich young ruler, He will show us what we lack. I am convinced it all comes back to the question: “Did you die in the water?” I was not willing to die to what I thought was best in my life or what I wanted in my life. I was not willing to die, and like the man in my dreams, for 13 years I cried, “I don’t want to die!” while destroying everything I touched. But on that floor in the single-wide, I told Jesus, “I’m ready to die. My dreams aren’t your dreams. My ways aren’t your ways. My desires aren’t your desires. I need to let go of it all to lay hold of all of you.”
There is no greater feeling than to be crucified with Christ. To relinquish all control into the hands of the one that was beat by the fists of men. To the one that gave Himself for me. To trust the one that has defeated death and offers me life. I praise God for 13 years of devastation that led me to the most pivotal seasons of my life – to die with my savior so that I might more fully live.