God Is in Deep

I sat, four rows back on the right, just behind the grandparents of the beautiful little girls being baptized. My Christian faith tradition practices the baptism of babies and children, and that day a young family was presenting their 3-year old COVID baby and her infant sister for this ancient sacrament. In our practice, baptism represents the covenantal response of parents and the faith community to teach and to love the child in the ways of God, praying that one day these beloved little ones will intentionally accept the gift of God’s grace of their own accord.

Our pastor, a mother herself, had invited the young children of our small church forward to witness the baptism. As they all gathered around the baptismal font, a little girl eagerly told of her sister who had been baptized the year before. A little boy talked about his stuffed frog. In answer to the pastor’s question about the purpose of water, a third child talked about the pool party he had been to the day before. Adeptly, the pastor turned their attention toward the children receiving baptism, plainly explaining what was about to happen and the promise it represented. The 3-year-old recipient watched dubiously as our pastor dipped her hand in the water of the font and reached, fingers dripping, to make a wet cross-shaped mark on the girl’s forehead, saying:

“For you Jesus Christ came into the world;
for you he died and for you he overcame death;
All this he did for you, little one,
though you know nothing of it yet.
This only because God first loved us.”

Then, moving toward the infant, the pastor dipped her hand into the font and repeated the words while reaching toward the infant’s forehead. As she reached, the infant turned her face as far from the pastor’s dripping hand as she could, burying her face in the beautiful, white, crocheted blanket that enveloped her.

In that moment, I recognized myself in the action of that sweet little baby.

Those of us who were introduced to God early in life often spend much of our lives avoiding the riches of God’s promise. We, like the babe, turn away from God’s wet, dripping promises (and our commitment to them) again and again—often turning toward something that seems more comfortable, or at least, dry.

Thank God for God’s part. I am fickle. Even so, God remains steady, standing deep in the waters of dripping promise, unfailing love, and boundless grace. Continually extending it all to me. To us.

Tears welled as I sat grinning in my seat, fourth row back on the right, just behind the grandparents. I know that the God who loves these precious little ones will never stop pursuing them, no matter how far they might try to turn their faces away. That’s just how it is. That’s just how God is.

Jill English is an avid encourager of people and a lover of words. She is most at home out-of-doors, especially if the out-of-doors involves a beach. Her most magical moments happen as ‘Mimi’ while spending time with her well-loved grandchildren and her adult kids. Jill spends her workdays helping others discern vocational call through theological education. Her favorite conversations involve connecting the sacred dots of everyday life and faith. Jill lives in Grand Rapids, MI with two small, elderly pups.