(video by Wes Autrey)
I cannot imagine anyone present yesterday morning to witness Janice Lee baptized into Christ could have failed to be touched at a very deep level. J.J. and Lila Brennan had been studying the Bible with Janice, and she came to the conclusion that she needed to be baptized for the forgiveness of her sins. So, she came to the front after my sermon and made that desire known.
She was in a wheelchair because she suffers left side paralysis as the result of a stroke. She is also on oxygen. Several ladies and a few of us men took special measures to help her into the baptistery. She could walk, slowly, gingerly, and with much difficulty. The ladies helped her up the stairs, while we stood in the water to receive her and help her the rest of the way. Each step was tenuous and required the utmost effort on her part. Once she was finally in the baptistery, we carefully lowered her under the water and brought her back up. Very quickly, her deeply felt emotions gently bubbled to the surface. She softly cried, recalling difficult things from her past, and she said, “I forgive those who’ve sinned against me.” The joy and peace on her face is something impossible to adequately describe.
What did this new sister in Christ demonstrate yesterday? Resolve! Afterward, I found out not only that she had to deal with the consequences of the stroke, but she is afraid of water. Yet, she saw the need of her soul as preeminent over any obstacle she might have cited. The constant need of oxygen, the paralysis, and the phobia were outweighed by the Lord’s command. Her faith was so strong that they were not insurmountable barriers. She refused to let them be!
The difference at the Judgment, in part, will be that some will offer excuses for why they did not obey the Lord while others, through genuine, trusting faith, will not need to make excuse. They will stand before Christ, who will see His blood covering their transgressions. What does it take to go to heaven? A “no matter what” obedience!