At first pass, seeking immersion could mean attempting to be deeply involved in a particular activity or interest. It was just recently that I discovered a new parallel between Christ being baptized by immersion and my ability to choose to immerse myself in His healing waters. I believe there is much to be learned from the symbolism of water used over and over in the scriptures. For this reason, I’ve made a habit of tagging each water analogy I come across as I’m studying.
It was while I was studying abroad in Israel that my fascination with the symbolism of water initially began. I learned firsthand about its life-sustaining importance and how physically significant water was and still is to ancient and modern communities.
In our modern world, water is always within reach. It flows when we turn on the faucet, and we can buy pre-packaged bottles by the case. It’s so readily available that it’s easy to forget how precious a clean water source is—especially in dry climates like the desert.
In John 4:14, Christ taught, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” The living water referred to in this scripture is symbolic of Jesus Christ and His ability to sustain, heal, and nourish us spiritually. Immersion promises peace and joy.
Obviously, water sustains life. But what does it mean for me to sustain or be sustained by someone else?
The origin of the word sustain was first recorded somewhere around the mid-1200s from the Latin sustinēre “to uphold.” I found it interesting to look at the many verb forms listed for the word sustain: to support, hold, or bear up from below; especially by supplying necessities, to undergo, experience, or suffer; endure without giving way or yielding, as under trial or affliction, to keep going, as an action or process.
One of the first things Christ taught His disciples was how to treat each other. Isn’t the Sermon on the Mount about being someone who nurtures, builds, and sustains others? It teaches us to strive for understanding and for a forgiving heart and to be someone who sees the best in people. Christ urges us to lend a hand to the person who’s lonely or scared and set the example to leave people better than we found them.
That’s why we’re blessed families and communities, to give us opportunities to pattern our actions after His example. While discovering how to turn to others for sustaining support during difficult times teaches us resilience, sustaining and supporting those we love provides us with lessons on becoming Christlike.
His invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 is to each of us, no matter which side of the trial we may be on.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.— Matthew 11:28–30
The yoke Christ refers to is a wooden bar or frame that joins two animals, like oxen or horses, so they can pull something together. So, when Christ asks us to take His yoke upon us, He’s inviting us to let Him share our burdens. And knowing we aren’t alone in our efforts is a reassuring thought.
The 47th chapter of Ezekiel also teaches some beautiful symbolism as Ezekiel shares his vision of the temple that will one day be built in Jerusalem. Over the years I have grown to appreciate the imagery of these passages and how they apply to the healing I’ve experienced through Christ in the temple.
From the east doors of the temple, Ezekiel saw a spring of water that formed a river, which flowed eastward through the Judean wilderness until it finally emptied into the Dead Sea. This wilderness is a dead wasteland where almost nothing can grow, but Ezekiel noticed that wherever the river flowed, life followed.
The water of the river is symbolic of two things – it gives life and it heals. Verse 9 describes the impact the river has on all it touches.
“And it came to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live…because these waters shall come thither; for they shall be healed; and everything shall live whither the river cometh.”Ezekiel 47:9
Our temples today offer the same effect as this powerful, deeply refreshing river. It is a river of love, peace, revelation, truth, light, and priesthood power.
In Ezekiel’s vision, he is instructed to wade into the water again and again to measure its depth.
The first time he enters, the water goes to his ankles. As he walks down the bank a little further, the waters rise to his knees—he is told to continue walking. He persists in testing the depths of the water until it becomes “too deep to pass over”.
It had become a river in which he could swim, where the depths were now over his head, where he could immerse himself in its cool freshness. Similarly, when we enter the temple for the first time, we barely get our feet wet. It is through consistent and repeated temple attendance that we find the water rising and our understanding deepening.
Immersed in the loving light of the temple, we can become one. Jesus taught the early saints, “If ye are not one ye are not mine.” (D&C 38:27) Only the temple can make us “of one heart and one mind” as the scripture describes. The symbolism of unity is taught everywhere in the temple.
Its healing, life-giving power seals husbands and wives, brothers and sisters–it binds generations; and most importantly, it allows us to embrace Heavenly Father as we become one heart and mind with him.
I’ve never had much of a green thumb, but a friend of mine recently gave me a starter from her aloe vera plant. She taught me the most important part about getting the little seedling to grow involves immersing the root system in water and soil to nourish and help it thrive.
I thought again about how immersion was the key to growth, but we cannot immerse our roots in the things of the world and expect miracles to happen. We need to be intentional about what we surround ourselves with.
“Immerse yourself in the rich reservoir of revelation we have at our fingertips. I promise that doing so will strengthen your testimony, even if some of your questions are not yet answered. Your sincere questions, asked in faith will always lead to greater faith and more knowledge.”—Russell M. Nelson
That rich reservoir of revelation can be answers we’ve received as we prayerfully study the scriptures, but it can also be the words of living prophets and apostles that can strengthen and nourish our faith. A sincere desire to seek after truth leads me to that well of living water. And when I act in faith, striving to come unto Christ and to earnestly drink from the spiritual fount He offers, I feel my spirit nourished.
All In = Immersion
It’s a trending term to say we are “all in” when referring to being committed to something. As Neil L. Anderson reminds us: “Having faith in Jesus Christ and being a true disciple is more than a one-time decision—more than a one-time event.” When we follow the example of Jesus Christ and are baptized by immersion we are choosing to go all in and allow his healing waters to surround us and change us.
Being immersed is like jumping cannonball-style into a pool. Every part of you gets wet. If I am immersed, He sees every part of me, even the parts I want to hide from the rest of the world.
In an interview by Sheri Dew, Wendy Watson Nelson was asked what she would want to share with the women of the church if she were able to have a heart-to-heart with them. Her answer still resonates with me.
“Absolutely keep immersed in all the light and truth [you] can. If after being immersed, we then only sprinkle our lives with a little scripture here, a little prayer there, a little fasting there, we will only know enough about the gospel to feel guilty and not enough to feel joy.” —Wendy Watson Nelson
After reading her words I realized I needed to be intentional in immersing and not “sprinkling” my life with the gospel. I began to ask myself questions like:
- Am I drowning in the cares of the world, or am I swimming in the sea of His everlasting grace?
- Do I live with my arms outstretched, so nothing holds me back from His embrace?
- How can I deepen and strengthen my commitment to the Savior as I move forward?
By really immersing myself in everything about Jesus Christ, I learned why and how to adore Him deeply.
The advice to “keep immersed in the light and truth” of the Savior may feel easier said than done. Praying to know what specific steps to take will bring answers unique to your personality, capacity, and season of life.
The Lord wants you to draw closer and will “reach your reaching.” He will never desert you and is waiting to meet your desires to know Him. His arms are already outstretched, ready to draw you into an even tighter embrace.
“When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when he can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do.”—Russell M. Nelson
His living water is available to all, but as the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” It’s our responsibility to seek immersion in its source.