We baptized Ellie on Sunday.
Chris, Ellie, and I waded into the warm water as the band played Joy to the World and our friends and family gathered around.
I held her hand as she walked toward the edge so her daddy could pray over her, over her life, over her heart, over her choice to follow Jesus.
I started crying as we descended the very first step into the pool, and I didn’t stop until we were on our way out of the water, dripping and cold.
One thing that has weighed heavy on my heart for the past three years is what impact our marriage and home life was leaving on our girls. I’d like to pretend they never noticed the anger or tension, but I know that’s not true. I know because I noticed it as a child and, of course, my kids notice too.
They are smart and perceptive and sensitive.
At the beginning of 2015, I decided to finally take my early morning quiet time serious. No matter how tired I was. No matter how cold it was outside the covers. No matter what my day looked like. Obedience is often doing things you have lots of really good excuses for then just shutting up about them.
So I shut up about wanting to be in the Word every day and just did it. I did it when my kids were small and needy. I did it when I worked 45-50 hours a week teaching and then stayed up late writing. I did it when sleep didn’t just sound good, but was needed. Hindsight tells me this was within months of when Chris started drinking in secret. When people say His timing is always perfect, I could give you one hundred stories to back up that cliche. God knew what He was doing, what He was building my foundation for, what He was softening me for.
I know without a doubt God was working on Ellie during those mornings too. She’d stumble into my office or the family room, climb onto my lap or snuggle under a blanket as I finished up my reading, my journaling, my praying. She’d sit quietly as I wrapped up. I wonder often what God was planting in her during those moments when I wasn’t paying attention.
That God used the past few years–the heartache and the healing–to light my daughter’s heart on fire for Him wrecks me in a million ways. Elliott Quinn making it through 2016 and 2017 still wanting Jesus humbles and overwhelms me.
Ending 2018, a year of rebuilding and redeeming, by baptizing my girl is a touchstone, an altar of remembrance to God’s faithfulness in our lives.
At various times in the Old Testament, God’s people set up a simple altar of remembrance at a place where God did an especially powerful miracle, at a place where God dramatically rescued His people, at a place where God taught them an important lesson. These altars of remembrance–constructed of simple, local stones–would serve to remind future generations of God’s past faithfulness in order to give them strength to continue trusting the LORD in their present trials. (source)
December 16, 2018 was an altar-building day for me. If my life, if Chris’ life, if my daughter’s life, isn’t God doing a dramatic rescue, I don’t know what is.
As we waded into the warm water to baptize our daughter, our dramatic rescue altar was being built by the hands surrounding us as we prayed, by the hands clapping as she came up out of the water. Our dramatic rescue altar was showing up in the eyes of everyone who gathered around the pool, every whispered prayer and plea from our community who held us up as we crawled through destruction looking for shelter.
I’ve been gathering stones for this moment for a very long time. I just didn’t know it. In the morning quiet time. In the prayers over my daughter at bedtime. In the obedient action when it felt too painful. In the forgiving. In the cries for mercy. God was filling my pockets with stones I would use to one day make an altar of remembrance. He was filling me for Sunday. He was steadying me with promises. He was showing up with faithfulness when I couldn’t see outside of the fog.
I poured out all those stones on Sunday morning. All the gathering and fortifying He’d been doing suddenly made sense; the only way to praise Him was to give my daughter to Him and build an altar for His powerful miracle.
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