The cold, dark water swirls as four figures tiptoe into the deep.  The sisters stand tall, drawing in breath with lifted shoulders against the sudden icy dip.  Sun bathes white backs in warmth as they shudder in submission to a two thousand year old practice.  Father leads the way.  Preacher walks beside.  We head "down to the river to pray, studying about that good old way..."  I am an onlooker on a safe, warm shore, as they walk in the steps of many saints, out to baptism.

Waist-deep, these girls I've known since birth smile against the cold.  They have heard the Word of God (Acts 2:41); believed (Acts 8:12, 36-37); and received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:43-44), so now they walk out into the water to show all.  The immersion in water a picture of the immersion of soul, the passing from death to life through belief in the Person, the death, and the resurrection.

Their father holds them, and their arms clasp tight as they wait to be cradled back into the lake.  Links in a family chain.  A grip that won't let go.  This father here on earth a picture of the Father in heaven, who promises never to leave us or forsake us.  I look at this picture, and it is something to work toward.  Something to teach toward.  I, too, am a link in a family chain.  A daughter and sister first, now mother to daughters.  I want them to clasp tight like these girls.  Even through the difficulties of a teen transition, even through sharing bathrooms and mirrors, dressers and closets, bedrooms and bunks.

I want to raise girls that jump from the water of baptism with a shout of joy and a string of laughter.  Girls who don't just do what they're told or follow the rules...girls that find joy in Christ, understand their wholeness and healing through the grace of the cross.

Girls who emerge from the water still holding hands.  Sisters who are unafraid in a culture where holding hands means something different.  Sisters who face the world together, united, intimate, and ripe with the secret joy of shared experience on the cusp of womanhood.

Girls who bow heads but paint fingernails; who wear white to their baptism, punctuated by lace; girls who see reflections of beauty in a sin-filled culture, embrace details that embrace truth and eschew those that reflect only sin.

Girls who submit to authority out of wisdom, not brainlessness.  Girls who learn and grow, blossom and put out roots, read and study and pray and sing and dance and teach others.

When the Bible teaches that men and women fulfil different roles in relation to each other, charging man with a unique leadership role, it bases this differentiation not on temporary cultural norms but on permanent facts of creation. This is seen in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 (especially vv, 8-9,14); Ephesians 5:21-33 (especially vv, 31-32); and 1 Timothy 2:11-14 (especially vv, 13-14). In the Bible, differentiated roles for men and women are never traced back to the fall of man and woman into sin. Rather, the foundation of this differentiation is traced back to the way things were in Eden before sin warped our relationships. Differentiated roles were corrupted, by the fall. They were created by God. ~excerpted from Children Desiring God