Youth group: last night. 12 teens, 6 adults, sitting around my friends living room. Awkward looks across the room. How is this going to go? Am I really prepared to do this?
Of course I am.
I love youth group.
Stressful as they may be to work with at times, and yesterday was definitely a stressful day, I love working with teenagers.
And the series that we are starting with is so much fun. Life is an adventure.
So here are the basics of it:
There seems to be this formula for being a Christian that we all think we have to follow to make it to heaven one day. But look for more unique, or beyond the normal ways of spending time with God.
When asked what they thought of when asked how to spend time with God, we got a whole list of church answers. You know what I’m talking about. Read my Bible. Pray. Go to church.
Don’t get me wrong, I do think those things are important. Because they are. But they are far from the only ways to spend time with God.
Several people opened up last night that they struggle with reading the Bible. They just simply struggle with being able to comprehend what it actually means, or the message that it is trying to convey. I get it. Been there myself. Some days, I still am there myself. Because when it gets into Deuteronomy and it keeps listing the rules over and over and over and OVER again, my eyes start to cross, and I simply start to wander off into la la land.
Don’t tell me you’ve never experienced it.
But there are strategies to help focus more, and to understand what the Bible is actually talking about. For one, I started reading a Life Application Study Bible. So beyond actually reading what the Bible says, super smart people also tell us what’s actually going on, why it is important, and how you can apply principles that were established thousands of years ago, to life today. For example, in my Old Testament reading I am currently in Exodus, and it’s the part where Moses is explaining all of the rituals that God commanded them to have in order to worship Him.
The first few times I read this, I thought it was absurd. And I didn’t understand it. And I got frustrated. But there was one comment in my Bible that has helped me tremendously. People living at that time didn’t know how to worship.
Did you catch that?
Worshiping God was a completely brand new concept.
So looking at this, reading this, from the perspective that I have, where people have worshiped God for thousands of years, we kind of know what to do.
But back in the day, no one had any idea of what to do, or how to worship. What they weren’t supposed to do, or wear, or anything.
So knowing that one teeny, tiny piece of information makes complete sense. So now I’m reading with that lens in place, and it is far less ridiculous.
If you go back to the beginning of what I was writing in this post, you should recall that our discussion last night centered around the non-formulaic ways to spend time with God. And then I brought up Exodus, and the very strict formula they were given to worship God. So why did things change?
Jesus changed everything.
Jesus made this relationship possible. His life, his death, his sacrifice, made my life possible.
The last big adventure I went on was near the end of summer, and I went on a short trip with 2 of my girlfriends from college, to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Which just seems ludicrous. Because there is no possible way that I started college 20 years ago. Except, we did. So when we started planning this trip, and the location that we chose, it was mentioned that ziplining was available.
My mom has even stated that she wanted to try ziplining sometime.
So I mentioned that I had never went, and I needed to check it off my bucket list.
I’m an idiot.
Because guess what?
I hate heights. Like, really hate them. A lot. Just thinking about it gives me heart palpitations. And I might cry. Or pee my pants a little.
Ok, maybe not.
So first of all, let me tell you one thing. When we actually made the plans to go ziplining, I started praying. A lot. Because I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it. So I prayed, and prayed, and prayed. Before, during, and after.
If life, and my relationship with God, is an adventure, I think my experience ziplining describes it quite perfectly. When I was standing on the platform, getting hooked up to the line, I was terrified. Absolutely terrified. I was scared to take that leap the very first time. Because I had no idea what to expect. Am I really about to trust a harness and a little strip of cord to support me and carry me to the next platform? What is it going to feel like? Am I going to vomit? I had no idea what to expect.
For those of you who are tentative about beginning a relationship with God, you may feel much like I did standing on that platform.
But I lept. And it was amazing.
I landed on the next platform, that happened to be up a tree. So we’re all standing on the platform, and it’s swaying a little. And I really think that I might puke. I am completely freaking out yet again. And then it was my turn to zip once again. I stood up to get attached to the line. And I couldn’t lift my feet. I thought they were going to have to push me. But then I had the realization that being stuck up the tree was my problem. That is what was making me nervous. I knew that as soon as I lifted my feet, and trusted the line and the harness and our guides, I would be perfectly fine.
And. I. Was.
Maybe you’re exactly where I was up in that tree. You’ve began your relationship with God, but you’ve landed on the platform, which isn’t a bad place to be. But you’re afraid to move forward. You’re afraid to take the leap, because you just aren’t sure of what is going to happen. Things turned out fine the first time, but what if the next time, they don’t. What if it isn’t going to feel the same? What if it’s worse?
Well, guess what? I had 7 lines to zip. And every single time I had to lift my feet and jump, it kept getting easier and easier.
By the end, I wasn’t holding on with a death grip. I was relaxing, and going with the flow. I even let myself flip upside down, because I trusted that I would be ok.
Your relationship with God is and adventure. It can and it will be scary sometimes. But in the end, it is so totally and completely worth it.
Personally, I can’t wait to go ziplining again.
Yes, you can be nervous. But take the leap. I promise, it’s worth it.
Live the adventure.
Love the adventure.