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The Testimony

Philippians 1:21-24
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean
fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard pressed from both directions,
having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is
more necessary for your sake.

Pawel waded through the water and made his way to the microphone. He was
nervous as he approached the ledge, his hands shaking as he laid down his testimony and
began to speak. He looked out to find a friendly face that would help him calm his
anxiety but the lights in the sanctuary cast the congregation into darkness making him
feel very much alone and exposed.
Pawel’s aloneness was complete. He could not see his audience; he could not hear
their encouragement. He saw his hands gripping the ledge and heard his voice as it tested
the air of the room. As he spoke he felt the room recede and its emptiness threaten to
engulf him. He was no longer looking out at this space but was looking upon it from a
place high within himself. He could see himself speaking, but who was it he was
speaking to?
A hand was placed upon his shoulder. Pawel slowly turned toward his pastor
whose expression mirrored his concern for Pawel. “Are you alright?” the pastor asked. At
that moment Pawel was enveloped by a roar of silence that filled his ears and insulated
him from the world of flesh. Pawel slipped away and entered into the realm that exists
just beyond this reality and just before the next.
The pastor’s hands moved to Pawel’s back and chest and Pawel faintly heard him
proclaim, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Pawel was laid back into the water; he bent his knees in order to allow his body to slip
beneath the surface. He heard the sound of the water as it rushed to fill the void where he
had stood. He felt the water’s warm embrace as it permeated his clothes and enveloped
his skin. He closed his eyes and rested for what seemed an eternity between this life and
blessed death.
Pawel wanted to stay. He wanted to leave his body and stay under forever. He
wanted to remain with God, to rest in His hands, and never leave this place again. But his
desire was not granted. He was pulled from the depths of the pool; he was taken out of its
warmth and thrown back into life. It was a struggle to regain his feet upon legs that were
unwilling to obey his command.
“God bless you son.”
Pawel nodded and moved his sluggish body up the steps of the baptismal. All was
dark around him- the ‘Amens’ were muted, the hands on his shoulders as he passed the
brethren were numbed. He made his way toward the dressing room and collapsed within
its bowels, shivering and unable to speak. It was several minutes before he had the
strength to stand again and several more before he could control the shaking of his body
well enough to dress. And it was several days before he understood all that had happened.
Pawel was marked that day. He was picked up and gripped tightly in the hand of
the Almighty and made wholly His own. God had purified Pawel within the chilling fires
of His holiness and freed him from the chains that had enslaved him for most of his thirty
years. In those precious moments in the waters of baptism God had caused Pawel to pass
through death and into life. God let him know that He was Lord and then He set Pawel
back on his feet shaken but clean; weak in the flesh but strong in his spirit.

Romans 6:4
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the
dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Mike Spencer/ March 23, 2008