I was a nervous wreck.
Even more so than usual my family would say!
In the last several years God has brought some healing and help to my anxiety issues but there is still work to be done. We are all a work in progress right?
And while I was so excited thinking about this long awaited dream for my youngest son coming true, I also woke up at night fretting about how things would go. Would my son, Luke, be in his happy mood or be angry and physically aggressive? What if someone got injured? Luke, who is mostly non-verbal and has autism often has up and down moods throughout the day and they are sometimes hard to predict. The same could be said for many of us, his are just more extreme.
But oh did he have joy on his face and in his sweet smile when he told me on TouchChat (his communication application on his IPAD), “I love Jesus.”
I had been helping Luke find and push “Jesus loves me” and then back to find “I love Jesus.” He kept going back to push “I love Jesus” with a huge grin on his face. He was telling me about his friendship with God through Jesus!
For a couple years I had felt like it could be time for Luke to get baptized but it wasn’t an easy thing to plan or figure out. While my home church has a wonderful special needs ministry, called Masterpiece, Luke would be the first one from Masterpiece to be baptized. At Chapelstreet Church, formerly called First Baptist Church of Geneva, folks typically share about their relationship with Jesus before being dunked in the baptism pool.
Our lead pastor, Jeff, was on board and basically told Jaimie, the director of special needs ministry at our church about 10 days prior, “Let’s get Luke baptized with this next class!” It actually worked out great that way, less time for me to worry-then-pray, worry-then-pray/REPEAT without knowing way ahead of time. But some tweaking, prep and talking to Luke A LOT about it ahead of time were needed.
With Jaimie’s help we decided it would be better if he got baptized before the actual service started. Less people and less pressure if things went awry. We would use the baptismal pool but not dunk Luke. He LOVES water but not so much if forced to put his face in. We also planned it so there would be extra time after Luke’s baptism but before the scheduled service began that Saturday night thinking Luke would not want to get out of the water since he enjoys it so much. We invited a small amount of family and friends thinking it would be best to keep it low key. Since Luke loves to run around wild in big spaces like the sanctuary church said family and friends could gather in the smaller Sunday school room that Luke was used to afterwards to celebrate. So nice of them! See, it did take some planning ahead!
The day of Luke’s baptism (this past December) arrived and have I mentioned I was quite nervous? My husband kept saying it would all be fine no matter what happened but man was it hard waiting that day! We have a wonderful respite worker, Katherine, who has been with Luke for four years and she and I both had trouble waiting for 4:30pm to hit. A bit before the five of us (including Katherine and our older son, Brandon) were going to head out to church Luke started crying and yelling and needed time to rock under his blanket, which soothes him. Thankfully, he recovered quickly and off we went.
And guess what? It went GREAT and turned out to be such a special time.
Luke told the gathered group with his iPad that “Jesus loves him” and “I love Jesus.” That really is the whole message isn’t it?
He and I got in the little pool with Pastor Jeff and Jeff used a small plastic pitcher to pour water over Luke’s head while saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Family and friends clapped and cheered and with the help of donuts, which Luke loves, we got out of the pool pretty quickly to head to the Sunday school room to celebrate and enjoy our donuts.
More folks who love Luke wanted to be present so about 30 of us ended up at the baptism and short celebration after. It was just so fantastic to feel all the love and affection for our family, especially for our special guy. A couple different friends told me Luke’s baptism was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen.
As parents of those with special needs or chronic illnesses we know things can and do go amuck. Illness and meltdowns happen. But I am so thankful that Luke could be baptized and have the time be special for him. I’m grateful for a church that was flexible, made it happen and even got it on video. Mostly I’m amazed by the Lord, who works through our worries and weaknesses to show His love and power.
--By Deborah Meyer Abbs