"I never imagined I'd experience God like this." "This has been the best week of my life." "I finally felt God's presence!"
"I've never had a better night than this night, right here." "Worship has never been greater than these past two nights." "I'll never be the same after this!"
"I can't wait to share the all the stories from this week!"
This might've been your story.
A life-changing, faith-building week from a one-of-a-kind experience. One that makes makes you so excited just thinking about it, all you want to do is leap.
Maybe you made a declaration of sorts to friends. Said it yourself. To your youth leader. Maybe even to the whole youth group on a night to share.
I know I have. Too many times after too many times. And I've heard them too. Too many times after too many times.
Now I'll be the first to say, it's tough to put into words how incredible it is to see God work in ways unimaginable-especially in students. It's earth shattering. I get more thrilled than I can handle seeing all of these pieces of transformation taking place after waiting to see so many students encounter and begin an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. As a Youth Minister, it is hard for me to ever stop thinking about those moments when the school year begins.
Yet, what ends up happening most of the time on that Saturday you get back from that camp/mission trip/outreach? (Doesn't matter if you're in 7th grade or you're going to be a mostly mature senior.)
I know what I did. I know what many students have said they've done. We go right back into the flow of how things were before. Hardly changing anything.
With something that you are not just convinced but know has changed your life, with something that has rocked you to the very core of your entire being, with something that has finally brought you to feel and know something unlike anything you've ever experienced or witnessed, (the presence and truth of the One True Christ), does it make sense to just go back to the flow of things? Does it make sense to tame the faith that is yearning to leap?
Let's say I go back to the moment when I first truly fell in love with my wife.
My heart is crumbling, yet it's stronger than it has ever been. My knees are weak, yet I'm floating above my head. My eyes are wide, yet they're more focused than they ever could be. A intense yet gentle, easy yet stirring, calm yet passionate sensation fills my mind as well as my gut. And it runs like a sweeping shock from the tips of the longest hair on my head, to the last skin cell on the bottom of my feet.
Then she tells me she feels the same way.
For the moment beyond moments, all darkness within and around has somehow vanished altogether. No negatives. No worries. No anger. No doubts. No selfish pride. It's gone. Light unlike anything else has become a cool, burning entity inside of me. Feels like I could hold it in the center of my hands. All from this encounter of romantic love.
Would it make sense for me to feel this to only then walk back to my normal life?
Would it make sense to live just like I was? And then sometimes acknowledge to this woman only when I need her, or feel like it, or "that one time" that extraordinary feeling hit me?
I would do exactly what I did in the first place. I'd do everything I could to spend the rest of my life with her, no matter the sacrifice or changes that would come.
I'd take the leap.
It's the same after your life-altering summer trips. If you experienced a "spiritual high" or a feeling that you're not sure you could ever feel again, don't just leave it at that camp or that outreach or that trip.
Do everything you can to make changes where you can in your life. Just don't continue to go with the norm. (No, dropping school shouldn't be an option.) Start with minor shifts. Like as your summer experiences taught you, most often, getting out of your normal circumstances leads to growth. Get uncomfortable.
At home, put away the Xbox one hour earlier than normal. Get off the phone or tablet a bit more. Join your family for an actual meal at the table (and talk to them).
At school, get to know one person new a week (or month if a week frightens you). Sign up to serve somewhere local once a semester. Sit with the forgotten person at lunch just once and see what happens.
Every day, read one verse of scripture a day. God's been showing and speaking through it for thousands of years and will continue to do so (there's literally an app for that. It even has 1-3 minute devotional last to help you understand. Enticing videos and podcasts as well. Who doesn't have 3 minutes? Or even 60 seconds???). Pray for a few minutes as you get ready for the day to thank God for all that you have (opportunities, experiences and/or blessings).
There are enormous amounts of options for minor change that can lead to enormous growth.
Still unsure? Kind of afraid? Don't worry. I've been there (3rd grade to 11th grade and parts of college) much much more than I'd like to admit.
It might be hazy. Probably unpredictable and choppy.
It might even feel like your drowning at times. But try. Keep trying. And do.
Be genuine. Be real. Be loving. Share a semblance of that life-changing spark in you.
And lift your head to the One above the surface.
Then when the mundane life of before starts to settle in...
And you feel like you hit this...
Or come across this...
Which makes you want to remove yourself and shut off the world...
Know that you are never truly alone.
You have Someone who listens even when you start to question your experiences.
And God's people and church are never too far away to talk to and surround yourself with.
Don't teter on the edge of where you've been and where you hope to go as the currents roll by. Do what that spark of faith has been calling you to do since summer...
The pages of your new chapter have opened. It just needs your story.
God showed you He is ready. There is more ahead.
So take that leap and write it.
Philippians 1:6 (MSG) "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears."
Philippians 3:12-16 (MSG) “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.”