Shall We Gather at the River?

One followed right after the other into the water.

Twenty-two in all.


First the name.          

Tim, Helen, Denae, Reggie, Brenda, Sonia, Nick, Maynard…

Then the testimony.

“God didn’t give up on me.”

“I love the Lord with all my heart.”

“I just want to thank the Lord…”

“Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior…”

“God didn’t give up on me.”

“I love the Lord with my whole heart.”

Then the water.

“John, I baptize you in the name…”

“Pam, I baptize you in the name…”

“Sue, I baptize you in the name…”

With each additional name, with every testimony, and with all the baptisms, excitement rose then soared.

When the last went under and arose from the water, I wondered, “Are there no more?”

I wanted the experience to continue. I wanted one more to state his name. I wanted one more to offer her testimony. I wanted one more to receive baptism.

I wanted to do it again.

And again.

And again.

What an incredible opportunity—to stand in the river where John baptized Jesus. What a glorious glimpse of God’s family gathering at the Jordan River and acknowledging His work in our lives.

In the midst of this marvelous event came the distractions. Fish nibbling at my feet. Exotic birds flitting down the river. A nutria (a muskrat on steroids) swimming in the background. An overheard conversation in Russian.

The distractions were momentary. And, to be honest, added to the experience.

I saw.

I heard.

I felt.

The memories will last a lifetime. And, prayerfully, will influence how I approach my faith in the future.

How so?

1)      The experience enlarges my vision. It reinforces the corporate image I have of my relationship with the one God. I’m incorporated into His family. I do not stand alone in my faith. In the past, someone helped me enter the faith journey. In the present, others help me remain on the path.

2)      The experience invites me to express my faith to others. Hearing people testify revitalized my own faith. Knowing how others’ testimonies encouraged me motivates me to listen and look for those opportunities to share my own experiences as I walk with God.

3)      The experience arouses the desire to help in the new birth process. Jesus spoke about the spiritual birth initiated by the Holy Spirit, God’s unseen Presence. It’s been awhile since I shared my faith and saw someone be born into God’s family. Baptism in the Jordan River reminded me of the joy of new birth. I desire to be an active participant in the family’s growth plan.

Question: What expands your vision and encourages your faith?

If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing. Each new post will come directly to your email inbox. In a typical week, I post two new articles.

About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
This entry was posted in Community, Lessons from the Holy Land and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Shall We Gather at the River?

  1. Brandon says:

    Thats really cool!

    By the way, I posted a recipe way back on the first announcement…do I need to post another 1 or am I in? 🙂

  2. Always inspiring to hear what God is doing. Thanks for reminding me to keep praying for another one to gather at the river.

  3. Donna Malone Hamilton says:

    Tom, was this on your trip to Israel? Coby and I were both baptized, a second time, in the River Jordan. Great experience with 40 others. Love your blog! In HIS love, Coby & Donna H!

    • tnealtarver says:

      Hey, Donna, I’ve been remiss about answering your question. Yes, this was on our Work & Witness trip to Israel and Jordan. It’s been so long since you commented you’re probably thinking, “What did I ask?” Hope ya’ll have a grand time in October. Sure wish Ellen and I could join the fun. We’ll actually be down there a few weeks earlier.

  4. Pingback: Are You A Part of This Story? | A Curious Band of Others

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s