October 27th, 2014

I do photography because I like pictures... I like images and I love the depth of life, emotion, and meaning that can lie within a single photograph.  I know it may sound crazy, but to me, the best pictures are never just pictures. They are full of expression and personality and a million levels of meaning and significance.

Baptism is one of the most beautiful pictures I could ever dream of capturing on camera. Baptism is not just another event to me.

You see, I was baptized when I was 21 years old... old enough to have lived on my own... old enough to have wrecked my first car, to have worked too many jobs trying to pay for college, and old enough to have experienced grief, shame, and brokenness.  I was 21 and old in some ways, but also just a young and stupid college student in other ways. I did not grow up knowing everything about God....  I wasn't an "expert Christian," who knew the right answers. Instead my life was marked by the hopelessness and desperation of depression, and in a way, I came to Christ because I was lonely and scared, and I needed Him.  I had nothing whatsoever to offer.

In my sophomore year of college, by "chance", my electricity got shut off one Sunday night (due to not paying the bill... did I say I was young and stupid?)  With nowhere to go, I ended up attending a night service at a church in Austin, called the Austin Stone Community Church.  Over the last ten years of attending this church, my life has been completely changed.  More than just a 'religion', God is near to my heart, and He is the love of my life.  In learning how to read the Bible, how to be vulnerable with a community of others, and how to look outside myself to love and serve others, God has completely changed my life.  The more I read about Jesus in the Bible, the more I fall in love with him.  What started as reading through the book of Matthew, desperately searching for someone to save me from my depression, has turned into a real relationship with a very real Savior.

I was baptized in a lake with my church when I was 21.  I view that as a turning point in my life.  This was the time of my life when God was tugging at my heart, and teaching me about what Jesus and the cross really meant... and it changed everything.  I had heard about Jesus, but finally it sunk deep in my soul:  Jesus lived and died to take away all my brokenness and shame.  To take away all the dumb things I've done out of a desire to be approved of or accepted. To take away my fear, my depression, my hurts from past relationships.  All of that was taken away at the cross.  My old life was washed away.  That is what baptism is about.

But it doesn't end there.  We don't baptize by dipping the person under the water and leaving them there.  They rise back out of the water.  New.  Clean.  Different.  Jesus didn't just die for us.  In power, he ROSE again.  There is more to life than forgiveness.  More than healing past hurts.  Forgiving past sins.  In Christ, the past is dealt with, and the future is full of life and hope and NEWNESS.  Amazing.

So I pray that you'd look at these pictures of a 5-year-old girl who may not have lived very much yet.  But she's probably old enough to have had her share of bad dreams.  Old enough to be hurt by her sisters.  Old enough to have felt alone and left out by her friends.  Old enough to have felt the brokenness of life.  And old enough to realize she needs something... someone... more.  I pray that you'd see these images and see a picture of what life in Christ looks like.  The washing away of our sin, and the rising from the water to walk in newness of LIFE.

Colossians 2:9,12 "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness... having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead."

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