“Trouble is a prophecy that God will give me strength; He will not abandon me like an unmarked grave.”
Andy Squyres, As the Sparks Fly Upward
“We can fall no deeper than God’s arms can reach, however deep we fall.”
Recently, I got into a conversation with some folks about the appropriate age for children to be baptized. When is the age when a child truly understands the life-shaping and all-encompassing decision that is surrendering oneself to Jesus?
Of course, we couldn’t come up with an age – because there is no magical time when a child fully understands the commitment they are making. For that matter, most of us are well into adulthood before we really understand the kind of commitment that’s involved in saying Yes to Jesus.
But it goes deeper than that. For do any of us really fully understand what we are committing to – even at 30, or 40, or 50, or beyond? Deciding to commit to Jesus is one thing – and a very good thing. But following Jesus is a daily decision, where each day we choose to say: Whatever comes, today, Jesus, and by your grace, I will seek to follow you.
In a very real way, saying Yes to Jesus – or anyone – is committing to the unknown. It is simply making the decision to continue to say yes with each new day, each new challenge, each new decision. Whether it’s marriage, or friendship, or parenting, or church membership, if we make a real commitment, we do so without knowing what the commitment will require of us. We say yes to the person/s, not the circumstances – for who can predict what circumstances will come our way to affect our Yes?
The writer & teacher Gerald Sittser talks about Abba Theodore, a 4th century desert father, who described an “ambidextrous Christianity.” This is the kind of faith that holds on with both hands, at the times when the hands are full of good things and at the times when they are full of difficulties. Ambidextrous faith is being able to live faithfully when life is good and when life is not. Such faith holds on, continues to say Yes, no matter what life hands us.
That’s the kind of faith I want to have – one that holds onto Jesus no matter what else I’ve got in my hands. And that’s the kind of faith I want to point others too, whether they are a child protected from those circumstances by their parents, or it’s a person who has been through circumstances I cannot imagine. No matter our age or stage of life, faith is a choice we make – Today! – to walk with Jesus in the midst of whatever life throws at us; the good and the bad, the ugly and the mundane.
So, while we are only baptized on just one day, our commitment and our calling is to continue to choose to walk with Jesus. Today, and every day.
I recently discovered the artist Andy Squyres, and was immediately struck by his piercing honesty. I quote him above, but the following video might be my favorite song of his (so far). I love his honest approach to the ambidextrous nature of our faith. As Squyres sings, “Either nothing is wasted or everything is.”