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January 16, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”—Romans 6:4 (NKJV)
I was in the fifth grade when I botched my first baptismal experience. At 10 years old, I lingered at the top steps, looking over the whirlpool-like body of water that faced my congregation. My best friend released my hand and gently nudged me forward. I stared at my smiling pastor, who was dressed in black rubber fishing overalls. At least that’s what they looked like to me. He motioned for me to follow him into the pool, but I panicked. Paralyzed by fear, I couldn’t think of a single reason why being pulled underwater, backwards, by a man in waist-high boots, was a good idea.
I didn’t get baptized that day.
Thankfully my next attempt at baptism, when I was significantly older, made far more sense. This time I understood what the pastor was saying when he raised me up out of the water and said, “You may now walk in newness of life.” Those words, quoted from Romans 6:4, meant that this girl who worried so much about what people thought had a second chance—a chance to live a new life, free from guilt.
This struggle for freedom is something many of face daily. Some focus on what they think will bring happiness, but they never fully appease their desires or anxieties. Instead, we ought to adopt God’s version of contentment and peace by refocusing our thoughts on Him.
Looking inward can be debilitating, kind of like that scared 10-year-old who stared at the man in rubber boots. That uneasiness in the pit of our stomach doesn’t subside until we allow ourselves to be strengthened by God through shifting our focus off our momentary needs onto Him. Then we can embrace His freedom—freedom from guilt, from condemnation, from our temporary struggles.
God’s not standing by with a big stick waiting to bash us when we flub up again. He loves messed up people! It’s His promises like the one found in Romans 8:1 that settle my soul and remind me that in Christ there is no judgement. We’re pardoned when we’re forgiven. Not perfect, but free to continue our journey toward hope in this new life—just as I was raised up from the water and instructed to walk in newness of life
DIG: When you feel overwhelmed and you’re facing something difficult, remind yourself that the same power that raised you to a new creation is the same power God has already extended to you. Praise God we fight from victory (1 Corinthians 15:57)! Read God’s promises in 1 John 4:4, 1 John 5:4-5, and Romans 8:11.
DISCOVER: What’s the one area of your life you believe needs to change so that you could fully focus on God and live shame-free? What if the only way to change was a complete surrender of self where you pray, “God, today I choose to live for You, in Your power. Use me for Your purpose, even though I may feel inadequate. I know when I’m weak, then You’re strong.”
DISPLAY: The enemy loves to mentally beat us down and steal our joy because he knows the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). This main component in our peace only surfaces when we choose to live like we are already set free from sin and walk in that guilt-free newness of life Christ died to give to us.