Friday, January 21, 2011

Beyond Awesome

Surrounded by believers in a cozy chapel, I pulled my knees close to my chest as I watched our new pastor impale an orange with a freshly sharpened pencil. Over and over again, he stabbed at the orange until its juices could no longer be contained by the punctured peel. Weakened by the many holes, it tore apart easily at the slightest tug of his hands. He explained that this orange was like a heart repeatedly broken and ripped to shreds by the pain and suffering of this world. (he was referring to a specific friend who had given her heart away and had it broken time and time again)

In an attempt to mend the broken heart/orange, he placed the nearly separate halves back together and wrapped the bleeding orange in tin foil. Though the heart was fixed and the puncture wounds were no longer visible, he now held a metal ball in his hand. It was still an orange but it barely resembled the unharmed orange he presented us in the beginning. By protecting this heart from further damage, the metal armor has also prevented any form of real healing. BUT THERE IS A WAY OUT...

He pulls out a fresh new orange and explains how God can give you a brand new heart, complete and whole... How much would I give to have that?

After Pastor Don had finished and we were dismissed from the chapel, the day progressed just like any other day (except for the fact that it was filled with fun activities and great conversations with friends. So really it was much better than any other day). In the evening he spoke again but this time about growing, connecting, and serving. (You can read more about this talk over at Like A Day Off and let me just tell you...) My mind still clung to the words of our pastor involving the orange, and more importantly a brand new heart. So as I was saying good night to a friend I asked if she would talk with me about something the next day (since we were too tired for a chat that night).

My heart was pulling me towards a God that I was pretty sure existed but my brain was rationalizing with this world. I've always seen religion as a set of good intentioned rules that, in the end, become the stone tied to your feet and the chains holding you back. But the next day Beth and I got to talking about my doubts and feelings about religion versus faith.

Though I don't remember Beth's or my exact words, she asked if I believed in God and if I believed that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for me?... After several long moments, I said that I DID believe and wanted to experience God but admitted that I had never given my life to Him because fears, questions, and doubts still plagued my mind frequently. The following events happened so fast... she said come with me, she told Erik (the youth pastor) that she needed 5 minutes, and I followed her nervously to one of the girls "cabins." Beth suggested that I say a prayer out loud telling God what was on my mind. -I had never prayed out loud before- We sat down and after a few silent moments and some tears, words began stumbling out of my mouth. I continued to pray as tears traced their paths down my cheeks. Comforted by the gentle hand of a friend, I poured my heart out to a loving God. I told Him that even though I still had questions and doubts, I wanted to give my life to Him.

On January 17th, with a friend at my side, I accepted God as my Lord and Savior. My heart nearly burst out of my chest as it began to break free from all the chains holding it in place. No longer do I have to live restrained by this earthly world. Thousands of emotions raced through my mind and when asked how I felt I had no words to describe it. But I did know one thing... I AM FREE!

Someone captured the group hug... I'm somewhere in the middle :)
Though I could see the excitement on Beth's face I wasn't ready to share my AWESOME news. I needed some time. I let her tell the youth leaders while I dried my tears and did my best to make sense of what just happened. A few minutes later I returned to the chapel and tried to act as normal as possible (which meant changing my huge grin to a casual smile). We had worship soon after and let me just tell you that it was THE BEST WORSHIP EVER!! AND like Beth said at Like A Day Off I let her share the great news with the whole group the next day and I found myself in the middle of the biggest embrace ever (MASSIVE group hug)!

SOOOO as this long story comes to an end, my new life as a Christian is just beginning. I know that I would never have reached this point in faith without the many people who have acted as "bridges." So I want to thank EVERYONE: the people at school who invited me to my first FCA, the youth group and youth leaders who challenged me to grow w/ God, other youth's parents that went out of their way to help me pursue Christ, and to Beth who was at my side when I committed my life to Jesus. Thanks so much for all of your support!

*this is my attempt at describing THE BEST day of my life and though it falls short of explaining how phenomenal it really was, I hope you can grasp that it was BEYOND AWESOME!*

1 comment:

Special K said...

I Love you, and just had a HUGE smile remembering that day. :)