Out here in Central Texas, the land is parched. Last summer, it rained every day in June. Seriously. When we were getting married on July 7th, last year (That’s right, today is our one year anniversary) we had to pray that it wouldn’t rain. These days we are praying for rain.
I’ve been praying for spiritual rain and physical rain. Spiritually, we’ve been feeling parched. Lately, it feels like spiritually, we’ve hit a dry spell.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to soak in some great spiritual rain. The thing about that type rain is once you’ve experienced it, you are much more aware of parched, dry seasons. And you begin to long for a soaking season.
When we arrived at Camp on Wednesday night (Hey, I promised a “Youth Camp” Post) the service had already started. When it comes to high school students and worship, we often find ourselves cheer leading. Usually, when worship is about to start, the student’s are “invited” to come up to the front. Get them out of the seats, in some open space and maybe they will move around a little while they sing. When we arrived on Wednesday they were already singing but all the students were still in their seats. It was different than how we have seen things done in our group in the past. It was a good service. Pastor Robin spoke and he said some things the students really needed to hear. At one point, he basically said there comes a time when you need to work out your relationship with God; at some point, it becomes your responsibility.
We found out later, that on Tuesday, during the devotional time, the students were asked what they believed was their biggest distraction when it came to their faith and being a Christian. The goal was to gauge where they are spiritually. For the most part they said school was their biggest distraction. However, this spurred on a deeper discussion about what they would like to get out of youth group. As the discussion continued, at least one student said that they felt like we talk about Jesus too much and basically, they just want to have fun activities. Pastor Dan responded that, without Jesus, the youth group would just be a club. (By the way…every parent of a student at Promiseland San Marcos needs to hug this man and thank him and his family for their commitment to Jesus and the youth of our church). Several students agreed and even said there was too much pressure at church for them to be Christians. This really broke the heart of the youth pastors and leaders.
On Wednesday evening, when service started there was no “push” to worship. Some of the students responded. By the end of the service students were in the alter praying. It was a beginning.
Dennis spoke on Thursday morning. We didn’t really know what had been said at the other devotional times but the subject of camp was “One Way”. We had prepared a skit named “Religibucks”. Religibucks is where you can get many flavors of “Jesus” but only a “straight” Jesus is free. The point being that you cannot add to the message of Jesus. When Dennis began his message by relating the account of King Josiah. King Josiah became a king at age 8 and when he was a teenage he began to pursue God. Josiah tore down the alters to false gods and began rebuilding the things of God. He told the students they could be world changers. Not much response from the students.
Thursday at the Ranch was HOT. There is no other way to describe it. I just wanted to go for a siesta (nap in the air conditioning). There were a few random clouds in the sky. I started praying for rain again. By the afternoon, the air had cooled a little and there was a nice shower. What we really needed was a soaking ran that would leave puddles but a refreshing, cooling shower was nice.
On Thursday evening, the service started off fairly typical. The worship was very good. I don’t remember every song they sang. The students began going to the front to worship. There is a place in every praise and worship service that a transition can be made from praise to quiet worship…it’s like going into a secret place; a holy place; it is where God’s Spirit resides. The only way we can get to the secret place is through worship. The woship team made the transition. Harry was playing the keyboard and he began to just worship God…not a song, but what was in his heart. It was the right thing at the right time. Students were raising their hands and kneeling. From where we were sitting in the back, we felt a refreshing, cooling shower of the Holy Spirit. It felt soaking because we’ve been so parched but I’ve been in soaking services and I know this was only the beginning. When the service was over, the worship team didn’t want to leave. We didn’t want to leave and several of the students didn’t want to leave. We continued to worship. It was so refreshing. I felt like everything I ever needed was in that place at that moment.
On Friday as we “wrapped up” camp, Pastor Dan spoke. He told the students we plan on having some fun activities in the future but we would never take “Jesus” out of our message. We are about Jesus. (Pastor Dan is the man! He stood for what we believe. He wasn’t bullied or pressured in to letting up on the core or what we believe! You Go, Pastor Dan).
I believe that God can change us in one moment; in one service; at one camp. There are moments in our lives that we can look back on and say “In that moment, everything changed. Nothing was the same”. Youth Camp may not have been a “Everything changed” moment; but I feel one of those moments is coming very soon. I am anxiously anticipating what God is going to do next!