I am interested to see the ripple effect that continues in me, the other leaders and in the kids. The retreat is like a big rock getting plunked right in the middle of a quiet pond. We’ve only just dropped the rock. The first wave of reaction is in the works and I’m thankful.
As many of you know, I went on a youth retreat for our church over the weekend as an adult leader-person. It’s funny that I felt like much more of a student throughout the whole process. Over the last few days, I continue to absorb new truths every couple of hours – just small pieces of the puzzles that I’m working on. Moments of clarity. Selah.
The ripple effect that I intended to see in myself, the other leaders, and kids… oh mis estrellas! It is bigger. Way bigger.
When we returned from the retreat, we entered into the church service where the kids on the retreat led in almost every aspect. We did not tell them they were doing this until the night before. Rad! I love surprising other people with challenging things! Each of the kids, at one point, had to take the mic and tell the congregation how the Lord worked in them over the weekend. It was heartbreaking to me to hear their voices shake and see their tears fall. And all at once it was amazing and beautiful to hear them articulate the transformation within themselves to love and serve God in a bigger way. I thought I just loved their messages because I was apart of the whole gig.
Yesterday I heard that our men’s Bible study group that meets on Monday nights, this big, gruff group of guys… they wanted to talk and pray about the youth service. It moved them. One of our older kids made a life changing decision following the retreat. Life changing. I’m convinced that God is working in his life and leading him to something bigger than any of us every thought. Lives will be changed. I’m in awe.
This morning as I entered into prayer I thought about the Psalm that we learned and meditated on over the weekend. Psalm 24. It begins, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. The world and all who live in it.” There is much, much more, but I’m stuck here. I do not know, with certainty, what it means to be His. What does that ownership entitle Him? I know that my sense of belonging should be entirely founded upon Him. I can’t let go of a few things. I don’t know how to transfer the title over to Him, I guess.
Later in the Psalm it discusses that He is the King of Glory. I wondered about “glory.” I am going to pursue understanding of His glory. What exactly is it? Can you touch it? Can you smell it? In our ladies Bible study the speaker in the video series discussed Moses longing to see the Lord’s glory. Here is where I think it is especially interesting. To “see” the Lord’s glory, the Lord had to put Moses in a cleft in the mountainside and He covered his hand over Moses. Anyone who is not washed with the blood of Christ cannot stand in God’s presence. He had to protect Moses from himself. I’m not sure if Moses saw anything. I do not know if you “see” the Glory that is the Lord strong and mighty, or… is it an experience?
I wondered, if it was those moments we have as humans when we get relief from problems, a victory, a peace that surpasses all understanding. Is it when we are excited for tomorrow, hopeful for today, and okay with yesterday all at once? All good things that we know to be loving and kind and wonderful mushed together to give us such a spiritual voltage that our very physical hearts cannot tolerate it. Is that His glory? Then, maybe, we ought to take a moment to cherish those moments.
I think, for me, one of the most powerful testimonies shared on Sunday, and one of the most personal to me that revealed God’s glory, was that of the youngest girl, Madison. Madison is an outcast. Our church accepts her, but a lot of society doesn’t. Even at the middle school youth group, she was looked down on. Her family has chosen to live a simple, pioneer lifestyle. I mean, they make cheese, people. Who makes cheese? They make yarn! The stuff you buy at the store – a human can make that. Blows. My. Mind.
Here Madison is up at the podium, and with her squeaky voice cracking and she confesses that she had never prayed for strength. And she sobbed. She couldn’t really finish what she was going to say, but she didn’t have to. The innocence. The purity. God’s Glory.
It angers me that the community responds to this girl with disdain. It angers me that I have seen the same pattern of disgust and rejection in the high school youth group with Madison’s older brother. Awhile ago, for whatever reason, the kids decided that they were going to interlock arms during worship. I think it offers a sense of community. I don’t love it, but whatever, I’m not 16. Anyway… all 50 kids were interlocked and then, there’s David. Madison’s older brother. All. By. Himself. My heart ached for him.
I have found, in my experience, that it is these kinds of people, the David’s and the Madison’s, the one’s who get kicked out and left behind, the ones society says are not good enough… it is them that have something richer and deeper and more reliant on God than anyone will ever know. Whether you see it or not, I am the very essence of David and Madison. Against the grain. Different. Rejected. If you see anything good, or beautiful, or inspiring in me, it is God. It is the same God that loves and shines through these kids. It is my prayer that they will become a constant reminder to me that I belong to Him. David and Madison didn’t choose to be pioneering children, but they are. I didn’t choose to be sick, but I am. It is in these “weak” positions that we are carrying the cross we’ve been asked to burden. Do I question it? Or, do I simply just step up to the mic and confess that I am weak and that I need strength to carry my cross?
Madison’s childlike faith collided with her spiritual maturity and she changed lives. The one who was rejected is the one the Lord may have sent to save you. Respond in love and I believe you may experience the glory of God. Friends, consider who you reject today. Who do you count out because you’ve judged them to be unworthy of a smile, a hug, or thoughtful sentiment? It is those that we, as Christians, ought to cling to and build up, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.