Often enough, perhaps because it feels too negative, we fail to speak of Baptism as a death. Committed to life in Christ, it is only natural for us to speak of the cleansing and refreshing waters of Baptism, but unless we are careful, we will miss an important and potentially transformative aspect of our faith. Paul is clear about this. “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Col 2:12) We can’t be raised until we die!
Baptism is about dying to ourselves. It is about plunging into the waters of faith each day and letting go of our hurts, resentments, fears and anger, but we can only do this if we remember that we have been saved in Christ, and have developed a security in the unconditional and total love of God for us.
Parents often learn this lesson early in the life of their children. An infant cannot survive without her mother and dad feeding her, clothing her, protecting her. She is totally dependent on others for life. When this dependence manifests itself in the middle of the night, it is often not easy for parents. So many young friends have told me of their exhaustion in the first months of their child’s life. Getting up three or four times a night to feed, comfort and change a child is simple and natural but very difficult.
And the dying continues when a child goes to school or leaves home for college or marries. The control parents once had is gone. Others influence their children in ways they cannot determine, and they must trust that God will be their children’s guide and that they will remember the values taught them.
Practicing letting go is a powerful spiritual exercise made easier when we practice gratitude. Thanking God for life, salvation, faith and the freedom to love on a daily basis lays the foundation for the letting go that all of us must face and endure. When we begin and end each day with gratitude, it takes the sting out of the lack of control we have over life.
Don’t be afraid to die to yourself today. God has promised us life forever.