1963. If you were alive and above the age of 4 or so in 1963 you undoubtedly recall the day in November.
In February of last year we visited the 6th Floor Museum in Dallas. Dallas is huge, 7 million people live in the metro area. There are many buildings with six floors. But only one building houses the location where a gunman shot and killed President John Kennedy from a window on the sixth floor.
While walking through the museum and listening to the audio headphones tell the story I was taken back to that day in November. My 3rd grade classroom in Minneapolis Grade School. We listened to the news over the loudspeaker while our teacher, Mrs. Warren, wept. The only sound was the voice on the speaker and the weeping of our teacher. While a room full of eight year olds tried to process what was happening.
Though we didn’t know it at the time, that day would register as a very significant day in each of our lives for as long as we would live. We would never forget.
1963. On another day during that same year, though I don’t recall the exact date, I made the decision as a little 8 year old girl to accept Jesus Christ as my savior. And a few Sundays later at the little white Baptist church on Main Street I was baptized while my mom watched from the congregation.
Eight years old, repenting of my sins and asking Jesus into my heart. Being baptized by immersion in a Baptist church. It was an important event in my life and I knew it was a good decision. Eight years old.
My eight year old heart felt renewed and I was sure that for the rest of my life everything would be good. I would be good, always making good decisions. No more sin ever.
By the time I reached my early twenties, of course, that theory became so very untrue. And I wondered….what really happened back in 1963 at the Baptist church on Main Street? Because, really, I wasn’t all that good.
And I have to confess, sometimes I wondered if the decision I made, the baptism I experienced at age 8 was just bogus, just for show, just….. a short prayer, a brief dunk in a baptistry.
Several Sundays ago it was Baptism Sunday at the non-denominational church we attend. As I listened to a sermon on baptism, as I watched more than one young child being baptized, as I saw entire families being baptized….. I was taken back to that Sunday in the little white church.
My heart was moved by this Baptism service, and I was overcome with the realization that yes, YES, absolutely there was significance on that day in 1963 when I prayed a little girl prayer to ask Jesus into my heart. And when I publicly, well as publicly as a small Baptist congregation can be considered, professed my faith by baptism. It was my first step of faith. Not my last. The scripture “He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion” was forefront in my thoughts as I watched that Baptism service. (Philipians 1:6 if you’re interested)
Of my two life impacting experiences in 1963, the murder of JFK was one I remember most often. But oh, truly, truly the most significant of the two was a beautiful Sunday morning when eight year old Bunny came up from baptismal immersion with a heart full of love for Jesus and simple hope for my future.
And now, it’s Easter season. If not for Easter, there is no significance in prayers to accept Jesus, or baptism. But Jesus chose to suffer a cruel death to buy our redemption and give us hope and a future. Because of Easter, because He walked out of the grave and is alive, even just the simple act of praying a short prayer asking for forgiveness and redemption will connect you to Jesus. He will give you all the strength you need to make it through every single life challenge you experience. Or carry you through them when needed.
And maybe, if perhaps you made the same decision as a young child, you might have the same questioning thoughts about the significance of that decision. Would you let yourself remember? Would you let yourself believe?
I cannot think of anything more significant. Can you?