O happy day that fixed my choice
On Thee, my Saviour and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice
And tell its raptures all abroad.
Happy day, happy day
When Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray
And live rejoicing every day,
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away! ( by Philip Dooddridge )
The hymn “O Happy Day” has been sung at many baptismal services, all over the world including in the Far East and China. Although the baptism is just the outward symbol of the inward grace and work that the Holy Spirit has accomplished in one’s life, for many it recalls the day when they publicly told family, friends and community that they had chosen to belong to the Lord and to live for Him. It was the day also when they reaffirmed their faith and told the devil that they no longer belonged to him but to Christ their Saviour. It was a public first act of severing friendship with the world. Many would have given their testimony publicly, for the first time of the Lord’s love, grace and mercy to them and salvation from lives dominated by sin. For those who converted from another religion, the baptismal day was THE day of public conversion in their eyes.
I recall the baptism days that sealed their internal vows to Jesus Christ for my father, paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather, after many years of personal opposition and objection to Christ. They took place after many years of persevering prayer of family members for their salvation. These were momentous occasions which made Christian family members breathe a deep sigh of relief that the battle was over with regard to their salvation.
For my dad, it was a day fifty years ago, when he became the evident answer to my mother’s prayer and he was personally delivered from frequent bouts of epilepsy attacks, alcoholism, gambling and nicotine. Never again would he be subject to epilepsy, and this miraculous deliverance he would testify of, to all the Lord brought into his path. Instead of opposing Christ, today he is 88 years old and continues his life of testimony and ministering to his quickly diminishing number of non-Christian friends and among the non-Christian senior family members of church members when called upon.
For my paternal grandmother, who had suffered a stroke and was paralyzed from her waist down, she was dunked into the sea, wearing her Peranakaan garb and sitting on a portable canvas sedan-chair, when she was 72 years old, It was a day of turning from idolatry, a fearful superstitious life for herself and her son, and from gambling. It was a day which would also be in answer to my father’s prayers for her salvation and it would in the matriarchal peranakaan community, pave the way for others in her extended family, to seek and to later find the Lord by the testimony of her changed life.
When my maternal grandfather was baptised, it was a day to commemorate and to witness publicly that a proud and unregenerate man had chosen to surrender at last to the Lord. He was 72 years of age and had spent countless hours discussing about the gospel and about the authenticity of the Bible, with our lady pastor who visited our extended family home often to encourage my mother and her sisters who had converted much earlier. They would cringe and could only pray for their educated, gentleman father who would on some days end up cursing and swearing under conviction of the Holy Spirit and resisting His wooing, after the pastor’s visit. It could not be explained then, why he was always drawn to discussion with our pastor.
One day, at the age of 72 years, past the age when statutorily, directors would have retired, my grandfather suffered a stroke in the office and was admitted directly to the hospital. In between doctor’s treatment and his struggle to live, he still fought the conviction of the Holy Spirit until one evening when so heavily burdened with financial transactions he faced which required a miracle to unravel, he could not refuse to accept the Lord as he had asked my father who had been witnessing to him, to pray for him and my father refused unless my grandfather himself called on the Lord. What a change it was for him and a testimony we shared at his wake and funeral service. It was a testimony which touched many relatives and friends who like him thought it macho to stubbornly refuse the Lord.
For my friend from China who was baptised last year, baptism was significant for on that day he felt the Holy Spirit’s empowerment for victory over depression from his divorce, pornography, living in sin and lies which he could not overcome even after accepting the Lord into his life in Singapore 4 years before. It was his real spiritual turnaround as he was baptised by a visiting American preacher in the sea several hours from Shanghai. The email he sent after baptism was so vastly different from the depressive ones he sent prior to his baptism.
Praise the Lord, He works differently in every life redeemed.
For anyone who has been baptised, would you share what has been the personal significance and impact of your believer’s baptism? The mode of baptism whether by immersion or sprinkling is immaterial for this sharing.