Water Grave

Anybody remember Water Grave by the Imperials? That rockin’, illegal song that ALL the kids at Grand Rapids Baptist College knew, loved, and jammed out to?
Yeah, I thought you might.
Of course now, it’s Cornerstone University, the kids wear jeans to class, and Water Grave is an oldie that their parents listened to (or grandparents, actually).
*sigh* I’m old.
I’ll admit that my favorite version of Water Grave came out some years back, from a truly unexpected source: Steve & Annie Chapman. It kicks out in a Charlie Daniels Devil Went Down to Georgia kind of way that I really love. Makes me forget all about Circle of Two (the Flat Oval song, for those who remember the complaints at WCSG…) or some of their other really decent songs that I was too immature to appreciate.
I was thinking of that song (Water Grave, that is – not some of the other ones…) on a particular weekend, as I always do, when we had a baptism service. Out comes our baptistry – the Holy Hot Tub, as our worship leader puts it. No, he’s not kidding – it really is a portable hot tub, placed in the Family Life Center, heated (usually), and set for the service.
We hear the stories of lives changed by the risen Christ and we see new life made manifest as our brothers and sisters pass through the water reminding all of us of our own journeys to redemption. It never fails to move me down to my toes.
Not that anybody needs to know that, of course.
I was baptized when I was 9 years old, newly saved and just figuring out what that meant. I really don’t remember the event, just the memory that it happened, where it happened, and that the robe they made me wear got really heavy when it was wet.
Needless to say, no toe moving memories there.
An idea, an image has been rolling around in my noodle, and I’m not sure if it is planted there for me to act on, or just a picture that our Father is having me keep in front of my eyes. Perhaps writing it down will be enough, instead of actually going through it. Just for the record, I’m totally fine with the whole “image in front of my eyes” thing. That’s good with me. Just dandy, thanks.
I envision myself entering the Holy Hot Tub (most definitely heated on this particular day), either wearing or carrying one of my lovely 6XL flowered shirts, thinking about my new life. How God, in a very real, physical way, has taken me from death to life. How He rewrote my history and my future, and changed everything.
I’m also glad to note that Craig wouldn’t have to call extra help in to the HHT to do the deed. Yes, extremely heavy folks think a lot about logistics.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I pass under the water…
And when I come up, the flowered shirt is gone. Left behind in the water grave. Everything that I was, passing away. Everything that I am becoming, passing through.
Here’s the cool thing – our family at church has been walking along with us and watching the journey. They’ve been cheering me along, encouraging Vicki, and are totally geeked at seeing me vanish before their eyes, so to speak. They’ve been watching me pass through the water grave all along. Instead of taking a moment, washed in the water, it began March 30th, 2010 and continues now. The process is happening right before our eyes. My old life is falling away, my new life continues to make itself real.
So, really, I guess the image has already happened and is happening. It’s come to pass. Steve and Annie are singing away, the band is kickin’ it, and this old dog is waggin’ his tail. Toe moving is optional, but mine definitely are.
“I’m goin’ down to the river,
And I’m gonna be buried alive.
I want to show my Heavenly Father,
The man I used to be has finally died.”

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