John 10:14 (ESV)
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
I think it was called the Illinois Christian Teen Convention, or maybe it was something like the Illinois Christian Youth Convention, either way, I was there in the 90's with my friends from the First Church of Christ Georgetown, getting all on fire for Jesus! They had Degarmo and Key and DC Talk in concert, so you know it was about near impossible to leave without wanting to save the world.
It was a collection of 2000 teens, listening to awesome speakers and good Christian music. We had invited non christian friends for the trip, hoping they would obey the gospel, and we were hoping to become stronger Christians ourselves in the process. I remember the bus had around 50.
I was on the front row for the final night, pretty much right in the middle. Slightly older college kids were leading worship and exhorting us to carry the gospel into all the world. The world was going to hell and only we could save them!
The problem was (and still is) I am very particular about words. It is why I have become a preacher. I spend a lot a time with words and I take them seriously, even at age 16, though at times, I lacked some much needed common sense.
Then it happened, about 20 minutes before the end. The speaker challenged us to "Stand up and RE-DEDICATE our lives to Jesus!"
2000 teens stood, from all over Illinois to rededicate their lives to Jesus - all but one - me. I remained seated. I really "stood out" even though my posture was rigidly posterior. I was all alone.
I had dedicated my life to Jesus the previous year at church camp and I took it very seriously. I led Bible studies at the High School and I went over and taught Bible at the Jr. High. I helped organize our youth group, preached at church and even shared the gospel in jail at a very young age. I did not need to REDEDICATE, I was STILL DEDICATED. I felt it would have been wrong for me to stand up, to rededicate my life when I had not ceased believing what I stood for the previous year. I felt like it would have been wrong to rededicate my life to Jesus. I wanted Jesus to know nothing had changed!
Looking back on this, I was obviously missing the larger point, but I wanted Jesus to know I was still with Him, just as much as last year, so I stayed seated. The only one in 2000 screaming teens. It was truly embarrassing.
The speaker and all the song leaders just looked at me. "Stand up for Jesus! Rededicate your life! Repent, before it is too late!" Yes, the speaker was speaking to us all, but his eyes were firmly on me. He must have been thinking, "That poor kid, he needs Jesus soooooo bad. He must really be messed up and on his way to hell!"
Again, we were all led to sing another song standing, I remained seated. They preached some more as all the my fellows teens stood, yet still I, remained seated. They sang a final and last song, with everyone present on their feet, EXCEPT ME.
My resolve was commendable, my execution, not so much.
Today, I still sit alone much of the time, but I don't relish being alone. I try to fit in, but most of the time I can't walk in lock step with others. I'm introverted and don't like being apart of the crowd. Even though we Christians are apart of the church, it is a journey we must walk alone at times, because even the followers of Christ can loose their way.
The good shepherd will find you, if you know his voice. Hold tight till he comes.
Known as an expert in all he surveys, he freely shares his opinions on politics, science & theology using diatribes based upon careless research from tertiary sources that presupposed what he thought in the first place.