I think it was called the Illinois Christian Teen Convention, or maybe it was something like Illinois Christian Youth Convention. Either way, I was there in the 90's with my friends from First Church of Christ 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.
2000 teens listening to awesome speakers and good Christian music. We had invited friends not of our church for the trip, hoping they would obey the gospel, and we were hoping to become stronger Christians ourselves in the process. I think the bus had around 50.
I was on the front row for the final rally 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 I lacked some much needed common sense.
It happened about 20 minutes before the end. The speaker challenged us to "REDEDICATE our lives to Jesus!"
2000 teens stood, from all over Illinois - 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 God the previous year and I took it very seriously. I led Bible studies at the High School and went over and taught Bible at the Jr. High. I helped organize our youth group, preached at church and even shared the gospel in a prison 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 I was still with Him. Nothing had changed.
Looking back on this, I was 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! Stand up, rededicate your life! Give Jesus your life, before it is too late!" Sure the speaker was speaking to us all, but his eyes were on me. He must have been thinking, "That poor kid, he needs Jesus soooooo bad. He must be really messed up and on his way to hell!"
They sang a song standing, I remained seated. They preached again standing, yet still I remained seated. They sang a final and last song, with everyone present all on their feet, except me. I was sure in my convictions but stupid in my execution. My cause was just, but my timing was horrible.
I still sit alone much of the time. say things most won't, but I don't relish being on the outside. I try to fit in, but I can't. I can't walk in lock step with other people as we are all on our own journeys. It is silly to try.
But the moral of my story is sometimes, certain battles aren't worth fighting. I set down for Jesus over the prefix "RE". Looking back I don't think it would have hurt anything to stand up for Jesus instead.
I can't help but think of Colin Kaepernick. I admire the sincerity, but it reeks of immaturity.
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