This past weekend, our church youth group combined with the youth groups of Connections Community Church and Oakwood Bible Church to put on our winter retreat. It was an incredibly fun time, and we’re planning to do it again next year. Friday night took a fun break for a moment to be a little serious. We extended the evening session a bit to address two things: a clear opportunity to follow Christ for the first time and an extended time to worship. This was going to be big, and there were certainly roadblocks to get around. I was teaching, and I was already worrying about Jakob (whose doctor thought had a staph infection) and then I was worrying about Zac (who had been concussed on the ice). We dealt with emotional issues that day, as well, as things weighed heavy on some of the students. Steve was also dealing with issues that day with his group, and Mike was continuing to come down sick. The gauntlet was thrown at us, and it felt like it was a direct attack at what we were planning for that night.
The session finally rolled around, and it felt to me like it took forever getting there, and so we started. The games went well, worship went well, and from what I’m told, my message went well. Then came the opportunity and challenge to place one’s faith in Christ. I was nervous. It had been a nerve-filled day, but that wasn’t stopping what we were doing. I asked those who had never placed their faith in Christ before to do so, and then I asked for those that did to raise their hands. And several did, including some from our group. What a feeling!
While I was finishing, Mike came up to play his guitar softly behind me. When I ended, he immediately began leading the kids in worshiping God in song. I walked away, went back to pray and thank God, and eventually joined up with the group again. As I stood there worshiping, standing next to a girl I knew had just raised her hand saying she had placed her faith in Christ, something magnificent occurred to me: there were several people in that room who were entering God’s courts with praise for the very first time. And man, that felt special. It’s an unmatched feeling.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.”