Recently my son, Everett, turned eight years old and was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was and am so incredibly proud of him and his decision. I wanted to do a post sharing my thoughts on baptism and the experiences Everett and I have had in this last year as he has prepared for this big step, but I figured I may as well just share the majority of the talk I gave at his baptism as it sums up those feelings perfectly.
On your, [Everett's], birthday earlier this week, you received a special gift; a beautiful music box, (which I have right here), with an anchor on the front. Many who know you might think the anchor was chosen for your love of titanic and ships, and while they are partially right, as it was explained to you, there was another and the more important reason it was chosen.
Getting baptized today and making these three covenants to;
1. Keep God’s commandments
2. Take his name upon you
3. Always remember him
can be likened to a drifting ship placing its anchor in the vast sea. An anchor is defined as something “that provides stability or confidence in an otherwise uncertain situation”. So how does making these covenants with God provide and help you maintain stability or confidence in times of uncertainty…
When you are fully immersed in the water today your mistakes will be washed away and you will become spiritually clean. You will probably still make mistakes even after you are baptized today, none of us are immune to the fact that we are still human. But that is why we take the sacrament each week - to renew these covenants each week as we partake.
There is always hope and you always have the opportunity to try again. That is part of God’s promise to you - when you try your best continually and repent as you make mistakes, you will be able to return to Him.
When you keep God’s commandments he will bless you. There may be times when it feels hard or unfair to follow the commandments - but they are not just there to receive blessings because we followed them, they are there to protect us. God gives us these commandments because He loves us, He loves you. So when there are times you feel uncertain about a choice to be made and life feels hard, remember that when you keep God’s commandments, you will always be directed, blessed, and comforted.
The second covenant you will be making as you are baptized today is to take His name upon you. You are and always have been a child of God, but taking His name upon you is like putting on a nametag as the missionaries do. As you are baptized and become a member of His church, you represent Christ. Knowing whose you are and what you represent as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will give you a confidence that cannot be obtained anywhere else and it is something that nobody will ever be able to take away from you. So when you feel like the Titanic, about to hit an iceberg, remember this anchoring truth, that you are a Child of God, and this truth will direct your path.
The third covenant you will be making today is probably one of the most important; to always remember Him, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Why is this so important and how does this help you place your anchor? Christ is at the center of the gospel and ultimately we strive to have Him at the center of our lives. Not too long ago our prophet, Russel M. Nelson declared in the Bicentennial Proclamation,
“We declare that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, organized on April 6, 1830, is Christ’s New Testament Church restored. This Church is anchored in the perfect life of its chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ, and in His infinite Atonement and literal Resurrection... He invites all of us to come unto Him and His Church, to receive the Holy Ghost, the ordinances of salvation, and to gain enduring joy.”
The Savior died for us, and it is his atonement and resurrection that enables you to be baptized today, repent daily, and renew the covenants you are making today, each week as you take the sacrament.
When you always remember Him and put Christ at the center of your life it becomes easier to keep the commandments and take His name upon you. Always remembering Him means you don’t have to feel lonely or afraid - because always remembering Him means remembering He is always there for you and will direct you.
These three covenants are the promises you make to Heavenly Father, but each is a blessing to you as well Everett, as it anchors you in Christ. So when you see the anchor on your music box or anywhere else, I hope it can serve as a reminder of the decision you have made to be baptized and these holy covenants you will make today.
As you know, the inside of your music box plays “your special song”, A
Child’s Prayer. This last year I have watched as you have experienced change and some of life’s challenges. You have worked through some of the feelings that have come as we’ve talked, cried, laughed, and sung. We began singing A Child’s Prayer almost every night and I have felt blessed to have witnessed your fears be calmed and your soul comforted as we sang this song. During some of these times, you have expressed your feelings and profound thoughts after singing together. I want you to know that what you have felt in those moments is the spirit - and I want you to know that I know because in those moments I have felt it too. When this song helps you sleep at night it is because beautiful and wholesome music that testifies of truth, such as this song, is one of the many ways to invite the spirit. Heavenly Father promises that as you are baptized you will not only be able to feel of that spirit but have it with you as you do what is right and remain anchored in the gospel and Christ.