Reckless Abandon in the Moonlight

By: Jenny Abbott Edwards

Warm Summer evenings in our Southern state of mind, beckoned a  few girlfriends and I to choose the comfort of the coast over the walls of a restaurant as we met to discuss our study, Open Your Bible.  As I lugged far too much beach paraphernalia, dinner in a cooler and all the other things, I assume I looked like a pack mule embarking on a trip through the desert.  I guess all these years of having preschoolers has made me feel like I cannot travel lightly because surely someone will need something that I haven't packed ---- so I throw it in the bag and over my shoulder!

With toes in the sand, I shared in the confidence of accountable friends, victories God had recently been giving to me. After walking through a difficult season, yesterday I had the privilege of revelation where understanding began to take the place of confusion, where each piece of the complicated puzzle finally began to reveal a bigger picture. It was like I heard God whisper to me, I've been preparing you, piece by piece, for a time such as this.

Much of my life is spent racing from one place to the next. As I catapulted out of the house last night to get to my group, already late, I felt prompted to run back inside for extra towels and clothes.  I had toted them down to the beach, but was actually a little afraid to share with the group why I had this duffle bag filled with these things. I felt funny and even a little awkward but, I did it anyway. I'm learning with God, that feelings usually don't get a vote.  Doing what He says doesn't always FEEL comfortable.

I continued to share that I knew God was prompting my heart to recommit my life to him, and lay down the burdens I've been carrying because he already paid the price. When I shared this, I pointed to the water and asked, "Does anyone else want to come?"

My mind was saying JENNY, YOU ARE NUTS, this is a crazy idea!! I was expecting a long pause filled with crickets and awkward expressions..instead, one of our precious friends, a devout Christ follower, told us that she had never been baptized and had been waiting for the right time. She told me when I pointed to the water, the Holy Spirit moved in her.

We began sharing with each other some of the burdens that weigh us down. At that point, we rose and walked to the water. As we walked down the beach towards the ocean,  we each reflected on what we were "laying down" and leaving behind in the water.

Under the light of a full Carolina moon, together on a nearly empty beach, we baptized our precious friend, Christina, in the ocean. With no bathing suit, no fan fare, no professional photographer, no crowd, no change of clothes, no line of others waiting to go next, our friend knew she had all God needed - her willing heart and the obedience to do what He asks. 

She didn't have to bring anything - because He's already enough.  How beautiful of a representation is it that the day she chose to make an outward proclamation of her faith in Him, she brought nothing except the obedience to follow Christ's prompting on her heart in that moment.  Though, she has been a devout follower of Christ for many years, the timing had not yet come together for her to take this next step of faith. But His ways are not our ways.  Christina is a beautiful follower of Christ who is typically extremely prepared, planned, and thought-out. But guess what? With no planning or preparation, He said, "Go Now" and she obeyed his prompting.

Her act of faith is what Christ calls, us to do. Often when we hear the stirring or shouting of God's prompting over something in our life that says - GO, NOW - we say, "wait!"  We say, Not yet!"  We say, "I can't because..".  "But, they aren't here...", "I don't have...", "It's not the right time." Or we say. "No". Worse yet, we pretend we don't even hear the prompting. But not her. July 18, 2016 is her day. Not because something magical happened in the water but because the Majesty, the Maker of the Universe , the Lord of our salvation, transformed her heart many years ago. And yesterday, without any planning or even the anticipation of the possibility of it, the Holy Spirit stirred in her heart that it was time to proclaim outwardly the love she has for Christ.

In the warm water, under the moon, on an empty beach, four friends dove into the ocean together to recommit ourselves to Him. To lay down all we brought with us. To take off the millstone around our necks and let it sink to the bottom of the sea without dragging us with it. Our struggles, our issues, our sins, our striving. We took it off. We rose up and celebrated victory. We chuckled about what the lone bystanders (who we asked to video the baptism) must have been thinking as four fully-clothed women were triumphantly laughing and crying with reckless abandon.

It's almost as if we had forgotten, that the midst of  "adulting" and all of the challenges that come with a Christian walk, God continues to say, come as your are. Lay it down and rejoice in the moonlight for what I have ALREADY DONE  FOR YOU is enough.

His love washes over us. The waters carried away our sin and swept the millstone to the depths of the sea. Just as my friend didn't need to bring anything with her to be baptized last night, God doesn't need anything from us except the willingness to say, Here I am.

You see, most of us, are walking around looking a lot like I did in my grand entrance onto the beach. An exhausted pack mule with my overpacked burdens, the worries of others that I thought I was supposed to be carrying on my shoulders and of course my favorite accessory that is always chained around my neck.   My necklace made of rope and millstone crafted with broken dreams, life's bad hand, lies we've been told and series of unfortunate events that have shaped the heavy rock that weighs us down.

The crashing waves symbolically washed our sins, our stone and our burdens away last night. We prayed and ask God to help us wake in the morning and not dive back in the sea to search for it. Like ocean waters crashing to the shore & receding back to the sea, we can allow ourselves to be drawn back to His ways. May we always be reminded of the day we laid it down in the ocean - when we cut ourselves free from the the rope tied to our death and were freed to float to the surface. We are not consumed. He has allowed us to rise back up from beneath the waters.

In the darkness of the evening, the full moon illuminated our sillouettes celebrating Him - He who is the Light, the hope of our world, in the midst of the falling darkness around us. Even in darkness, we can still rejoice in the Light that is illuminated through his people who chose not to be overcome but instead, through his salvation are able to cut off the sins meant to destroy us and rise up from beneath the water.

Some beach, somewhere, just might be waiting for you to go and dance recklessly in the moonlight after you've laid it down for the one who gave it all.

"But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. " - Acts 2:24