Cave Dripped

Cave Dripped

baptism by cave dripMy husband and I were walking through the majestic underground caverns in Carlsbad New Mexico, when I felt a drop. One drop, out of an infinite number, which over time formed the features of that stunning cave.

My husband was jealous! He didn’t receive the special “cave anointing.” A baptism by water of sorts. We laughed.

Baptism by water dripsThen we came to the “Rock of Ages,” one of the most notable columns in the cave. In days of old, rangers invited tourists to sing the old hymn by the same name at the base of the column, reminding themselves like the psalmist… “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?”[i]

It’s inconceivable how many drips it took to form such a tower of rock. And even more mind-boggling that mineralized water could form something so solid, so immovable, so massive!

Cave drips start a lengthy process of formation. When the cool water of baptism touches our foreheads, something also begins. baby baptismSomething is spiritually activated. To an observer it might look like an inconsequential religious act, though it’s a gentle thing, a cleansing moment.

baptism of a kissYet that touch of water signals a beginning in the way that a newly pronounced man and wife kiss at the start of their journey…

baptism of new lifeOr the moment new parents hold their swaddled baby for the first time. Most have no idea about what they’ve just committed to…no clue about the long road ahead.

And maybe we’re not supposed to know. If it were possible to count the cost of marriage or parenting or committing our lives to God, would we be startled and fatalistic? Would our hesitation be inevitable? Would we hightail it like a roadrunner? Some have and some do.

Yet all three major commitments in my life have brought struggles and breakthroughs, losses and gains, grief and joy—producing something in me that wouldn’t otherwise exist. The faithful “drips” of the Author and Finisher were there throughout, slowly and deliberately shaping the person I would become. And more importantly, without that process, I wouldn’t know God in the same way.

baptism of faithAnd so by design, what starts with a baptism of water (gentle beginnings with God) changes over time to a baptism by fire (severe testing by God), because God’s intent is to go deeper into relationship with us.

Jesus said, “Even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us.”[ii]

Author and missionary Frank Laubach put it this way in a letter to his father…

“How was this new closeness (with God) achieved? Ah, I know now that it was by cutting the very heart of my heart and by suffering. Somebody was telling me this week that nobody can make a violin speak the last depths of human longing until that soul has been made tender by some great anguish. I do not say it is the only way to the heart of God, but I must witness that it had opened an inner shrine for me which I never entered before.”[iii]

baptism by fireThe Free Dictionary describes a baptism by fire as “a difficult ordeal that one has to undergo through immersion and without preparation.”

Say, a child going to the dentist for the first time. But the phrase implies severity, like a soldier entering combat for the first time…or a person facing martyrdom.

Still, baptism by fire is originally a biblical phrase spoken by John the Baptist, and ultimately points to “God with us” in a brand new way. John said…

As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I…and He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”[iv]

baptism of the Holy SpiritThe Holy Spirit is far more than a passing breeze on your desert walk or a flickering candle in your dark cave. Surpassingly more.

Intimate, daily, speaking, moving—present.

And now that I am past my decades of parenting, and nearly forty years into marriage, and a lifetime of walking with God, I feel spiritually less cluttered and more attuned to the Holy Spirit who has been with me all these years.

difficult doesn't have power over those who trust GodJust the other day, the Lord highlighted the word vespertine to me. I was on my phone, searching for the definition of another word. Vespertine happened to be the word-of-the-day. It means—active, flowering, or flourishing in the evening.[v] God whispered…I have even more for you in this season of your life.

baptism in sufferingMaybe you are in transition, a time of hot tears and confusion about life and God and just about everything. Or as poet Mary Oliver wrote, there is “fire in the lashes”[vi] of your eyes. Wait for that drip of cool water on your head. Listen for His voice. You were not meant to do life without Him.

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[i] Psalm 121:1

[ii] John 17:21, NASB

[iii] Letters by a Modern Mystic, by Frank C. Laubach, 2007, page 18.

[iv] Matthew 3:11 NASB

[v] Merriam-Webster

[vi] Devotions, by Mary Oliver, 2017, page 18.

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