Whether we realize it or not, we’ve all been through life-defining moments.
Sometimes they are big, bold, and obvious. We get married, graduate from school, find our new job, or sit at the funeral of someone we love. These moments define us. They clarify for us who we are. It’s clear, these moments have changed us, molded us, and shaped us into who we are.
But, most of the time, our life-defining moments are not that big, bold, and obvious. Of course, we love the big moments. We look for and search out the bold moments. But, in our searching and looking for the big and the bold we are missing out on the countless sea of small little moments that define us and make us who we are.
Sometimes people ask me about the moment I knew that I was supposed to be a pastor. And I can usually tell when someone is looking for a big and bold story. I can sniff out when someone wants to hear about my lightning-bolt, “aha” moment. They are looking for a story about a dream, a vision, a voice. But, I’ve never had one of those moments.
What I have had is a string, a series, of small little moments that have defined me. What I have is the memory of 2 years of drudgery teaching Bible classes to 4th and 5th graders who didn’t want to be there listening to a teacher (me) who wanted to be anywhere else. I don’t have an “aha” moment. I was never struck by lighting. But, I have been given small moments of grace and teaching that have made me who I am.
Our God works through small little moments, through small ways, and in small places. Our God works through a small, little, stale wafer and a cup of wine. He works through some seemingly small words written on a page or spoken by some guy you call pastor. And, He works through a bowl full of water. Baptism.
Now, we do our best to dress up our baptisms, and to make them feel “bigger” than they are. We wear our finest suits. We dress our children in fancy white gowns. We through parties, eat cake, and give gifts. But, the truth is that in a bowl full of water combined with a few short words God defines us. In the time it takes for someone to splash water on you and say “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” your life has been changed.
You see, it’s easy to let any number of moments in our lives define us. Sometimes it’s the bad moments. We tend to define ourselves by the time we got fired (we are worthless). We define ourselves by the moment our spouse walked out on us (we are unloveable). We look to the moment that we could no longer fit into our favorite pair of jeans (we are overweight). Other times we define our lives by the good moments: the achievements and successes. We define ourselves by the plaques on the wall, the trophies on the shelf, or the letters before our names. We let these moments define us and tell us who we are.
But, the moment that defines you is the moment of your baptism. It’s the time that God showed up in your life to wash you clean, forgive you your sins, give you His Spirit, and place on you the name of Jesus. It didn’t look like much. Maybe you don’t even remember it. It was in that small, little moment though, that God made you who you are. And that’s how God sees you. When He looks at you He sees a forgiven, beloved, cleansed, child of God.