“I Will, with God’s Help”

Acts 9:18-19a

When Lauren Winner, now a professor at Duke Divinity School, converted to Christianity from Orthodox Judaism, she argued with the promises she had to make in the Anglican liturgy. “This is ridiculous, I can’t promise these things,” she said. “Half the time I don’t trust God one iota. I can’t stand up there and promise that I will trust God forever and ever. Who on earth makes these promises?”

The priest pulled the Episcopal version of the Book of Common Prayer from a shelf and suggested Winner would like it better. “In the American prayer book, you don’t just answer all these questions in the affirmative. You say, ‘I will, with God’s help.’” And so she was baptized.

Saying “I will, with God’s help” reminds us that, not only do we need God’s help to fulfill our promises at baptism, we also continually need God’s help to follow Christ in the future. Baptism is not the end of our conversion but the beginning of our becoming followers of Jesus.

Paul’s story is a testament to this truth. After a dramatic experience on the Damascus Road, he spends three days without sight. When something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored, he was baptized (v. 18). God’s Spirit becomes the gift Paul uses to navigate all that he has yet to learn and do. God’s working in us is a favorite theme in Paul’s letters. To the baptized at Philippi he writes, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for [God’s] good pleasure” (2:12-13). Paul was baptized and his new life began. Where has your baptism been leading you?

Lauren Winner, Girl Meets God (New York: Random House, 2008) 81.

Consider

How is your baptism changing you today? Where is it leading you to go and what is it calling you to do this week?

Pray

Christ, thank you for the transforming gift of baptism. May I, with your help, embrace the way of Jesus one day at a time. Amen.

This post originally appeared in Volume 27.2 of Reflections.

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