ancient boat museum.
The ground on the Mount of Beatitudes? A mixture of rocky and fertile. It was easy to imagine people gathered around in these very places as Jesus taught, surrounded by the object lessons He was using the instruct them. He spoke directly into their daily life in a way they could understand.
Our next stop was the city of Capernaum, where much of Jesus' public ministry took place. The rubble of many of the old buildings remains--including the synagogue. It was fascinating to think of Jesus in this environment. This day also impressed upon us how close in proximity many of the events of Jesus' life took place (walking distance!)
Once we made it through the more commercial dressing room/rental portion, however, I was pleasantly surprised at how serene and special the environment became. We gathered as a group on large stone stairs on the riverbank that formed a sort of amphitheater. Those planning to be baptized gathered right along the river. One of our trip leaders said a few words and we sang a song. In God's impeccable attention to detail, the chorus we sang was the one song I knew as a child--a song I would sing when I was fearful and longing to feel close to God.
"I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You. Oh my soul, rejoice. Take joy, my King, in what you hear. May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear."
It was a very person God-wink from a loving Father. A peace settled over me and I knew this moment--all five of us being baptized together as a family was something I would never forget.
Ryland was baptized first, then he stayed in the river to assist in the baptism of the rest of us. The child each answered three questions, publicly professing their faith and then were immersed in the FREEZING cold water. I went last and it wasn't until I walked back up those stairs, dripping and shivering that the redemptiveness of the afternoon started to settle in.
My first baptism was in August of 1987. I was a child a couple of months shy of 13--the exact current age of my children! I was from a family that did not attend church and so the decision felt like a declaration of independence in many ways. I made my profession of faith with no family members present and only one of my parents was present the night of the baptism.
The fact that God gave me a second opportunity to be baptized, not only in the presence of my whole family unit but beside them healed something I didn't even fully realize was broken. And the fact that my husband was leading our family in such a symbolic way? I am still overwhelmed.
This day was full of examples of what a personal God we serve. Jesus sought regular, unremarkable people in their ordinary lives. From casting nets to calming storms--to teaching in parables that explained the Gospel in a straightforward, uncomplicated manner. He knew needs they didn't even recognize and He spoke to them specifically in ways that would resonate in the pain, fear, and reality of their lives. My afternoon experience in the icy waters of the Jordan reminded me that He still operates this way today.
What an unforgettable day of personal redemption and restoration! (And hard to comprehend that we still had 6 days left in the journey.)