I don't remember exactly when I began legitimately being transformed towards/by Christ. I remember several instances of asking Jesus "into my heart". At a Wesleyan Church that offered a free Bible. At a VBS that offered special attention. At the Church with all the Flags that offered an autograph from Gospel Bill. At Youth Haven Ranch, to get one on one time with a man I looked up to. In youth group, on a trip to New Jersey serving the poor, to impress the youth workers and maybe even convince a female teen in our group I was worth a shot. On a trip to Toronto to worship with thousands of Nazarene teens because hundreds of teens were doing it.
I probably missed a few.
All that to say, I wouldn't take away any of those experiences. I believe each added to God's revealing Himself to me, and my response to those revelations.
I've been in youth ministry since I began volunteering at Youth Haven back in 1997. Over 12 years of attempting to let God use me to reveal Himself in similar ways to others. Through those years, I've seen many children and teens respond to God's tug on their heart....and/or to a talented emotion-smith.
Even today as a youth pastor, I've seen teens respond to situations. I pray they are responding to God. I continue life with them. I see situations/choices that make me wonder. I approach each time of response as if that moment is the moment they will be transformed for eternity. Something deeper than words. Something life-morphing.
And not only altar calls, and fill in the response sheet moments. But I'm attempting to view every word/interaction with those I minister to as possible "God reaching through" moments. It's not easy to remember....but I'm practicing. With my own daughters as well.
But I recognize that this life-morphing transformation is something that occurs in an instant AND continues to completion throughout a lifetime.
In the same way that this Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In being resurrected ahead of all creation, Jesus Christ inaugurates the Kingdom of God. All of creation is changed instantly in that moment, and yet continues moving towards completion.
A Song For the Lent Season
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