Everyone who grows up in the church faces a moment of spiritual crisis. It's that decision everyone must make to take their parent's faith and make it their own. Ideally that's a gradual process. My process? Absolutely NOT gradual.
When I was a freshman in high school, my church split, violently. Over the course of a few days, I watched people who I had trusted, friendships I had built my entire life, be ripped away. The small private school I attended (and was run by the church) dissolved. And somewhere out in the middle of this raging sea, I was staring around me wide eyed, trying to figure out what the heck was going on.
Fast forward to the next school year. I had been snatched from my Christian bubble and thrown into a Chaparral high school. Everything I had grown up believing about God and myself suddenly had a question mark attached to it. I was plagued by insecurities and depression, and I was convinced that I wasn't worth the love and attention of anyone, especially God.
It's a crushing paradox. Wanting nothing more than to be loved, but convinced that it's impossible.
Everything started to change for me when I met a couple of Young Life leaders. They were a different breed than many of the Christians I had grown up knowing- the gospel of works was replaced with the gospel of Grace, and they demonstrated a commitment to love me and meet me exactly where I was at. I was completely baffled. "If only they knew who I really was, they'd lose all interest in me". And yet, through clubs, campaigners, and camps, they continued to invest and pour into me. And slowly my paradigm on who God is started to change.
After graduating high school, I made what has turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life and become a Young Life leader at Desert Mountain high school. I wanted more than anything to give back the love I experienced to other hurting students.
The beauty of being a young leader with no experience and no skill is a necessity for relying on God for every piece of ministry. I prayed more in those first two years than I ever had in my life. I cried for the lost, begging God to do what I was so incapable of. I was blessed enough to see many turn to Christ. Some did not. Some who were following turned away from him. My only role, as I saw it, was to be a transparent funnel of Gods love, to offer these kids the same kind of hope that I was given in high school, the same kind of hope that I also was searching for. It is a very humbling day when you sit with a sobbing teenage boy who spills his guts for the first time, and realize that you have the power to speak life or death into his life. I thank God that he sees fit to use me, just as I am, in these moments.
And so the life I was convinced was useless became an incredible adventure. As with any good story, there are twists, turns, pitfalls. There is doubt, pain, heartbreak. Looming even larger though, is the joy and love of Christ, an obsessive love that is continually in pursuit of your heart.