When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:39 NASB)
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest... (Hebrews 4:9-11 NIV84)
I've watched many people come up out of the water of baptism. I've had the privilege of participating in hundreds of them. The smiles...the excitement...the joy. I've prayed with them afterward. I've watched them go on their way rejoicing. It's a great day when someone chooses to be reconciled with God...a great day.
Whenever I have the pleasure of participating in their spiritual life-choices, I try to let them know that their relationship with God doesn't end there. It's only beginning!
All too often I also meet Christians who are disenchanted with God...or at least with His Church. The most common complaint I hear surrounds the feeling of being "dropped" or "unwanted" after they make the big decision to be baptized. They feel like the church (the people) only cared about seeing them go down into the water (or get sprinkled or bow their head and say a prayer - depending on the church). But once that's done, everyone feels like their job is over. They move on and ask, who's next!
I try to let them know the opposite. The walk has really just begun. I let them know that EVERYTHING has changed for them as of that day. Their relationship with God is now reconciled. The power of God is now in them. The ones in the presence of God are celebrating! It really is a big day.
But we shouldn't move on with our lives without learning how these changes will affect the next day...and the next...and the next. Having a new relationship with God and His Power within us without learning how it all works will yield no change at all. It's like getting a new microwave oven installed in your home, but still going out in the back yard to build a fire to fix dinner every night. Everything has changed, but you've got to know how.
The writer of the book of Hebrews refers to this change as entering "God's rest." We are at peace with God through what Jesus did on the cross and we can even rest from our work of trying to be Holy. Jesus' yoke is easy. His burden is light. This new picture is what I refer to as a "Garden Walk." We won't be able the earth's Garden of Eden again until we experience the new heaven and the new earth when the Tree of Life will be made available to us again. We can, however, enter His rest in this life - with the fruit of His Spirit growing in our lives more and more each day. We can enjoy a life that is transparent and unashamed as we choose to walk with Him in our daily decisions, words and actions. We can enjoy a life walking together with God.
This next series of posts will begin to take you on a journey. The journey will show you what has changed in you, now that you have chosen to join Him. You will learn how to enjoy the blessings that come from walking with Him not just on the day you went down into the water, but on each day thereafter - until your walk in this life is complete.