The setting was strangely familiar. We parked at Bear Lake, turned on our head lamps, and started hiking up the dark forest trails of Tyndall Gorge. We gasped when we came to clearings that revealed a dramatically brightening sky. Small talk prevailed for most the way. But just like our “Hike to the Sky (Pond),” we also talked about baptism. Except this time there were about twenty of us, instead of three. All there to help celebrate Saul’s newfound faith, proclaimed through baptism in Emerald Lake.
It felt special to be hiking with Saul on these trails again. Last time, we branched off toward Lake Haiyaha when we got to Dream Lake. And somewhere on that trail, Marcel told us about how he had decided to be baptized just two weeks earlier. In a cold, clear mountain stream, no less. So conversation naturally drifted to reveal that Saul was also thinking about getting baptized. Our three-person hike to Lake Haiyaha provided an extended opportunity to talk about things and process the possibility together. But this time around, we branched off toward Emerald Lake: where Saul had decided he was ready to go public with his love for Jesus.
Upon reaching Emerald Lake, we all sat and swatted away mosquitos while Saul shared his story. Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Saul had been struggling with depression, to the point that it caused him to drop out of his studies at Purdue University. But something supernatural seemed to be calling him to Colorado for the summer. When some of his co-workers started talking to Saul about the Leadership Training (LT) program that had brought them to the Rocky Mountains, Saul felt like he was being led to join the program on the spot. He’s embraced the opportunity to follow Jesus in the weeks since, and Saul eventually decided that he wanted to get baptized here in the Rocky Mountains, among his LT friends.
We made it to Emerald Lake right around the time that the sun was rising. Hallett Peak turned pink in the dawn light, then orange, and then yellow. After his baptism in Emerald Lake, Saul came back to the shore for hugs, pictures, and prayer. His face lit up, just like Hallett Peak, basking in the glow of what God has done in his life this summer.
We concluded our time at Emerald Lake by repeatedly singing the words, ”My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in your love.” And indeed, that is my prayer for Saul. There will be other challenges to come. But we pray that his baptism in Emerald Lake will be an indelible memory of his faith in Jesus. And that faith can carry him through the rest of his life, as he keeps standing in God’s love.