Thirty years ago today I sat in front of a cabin called, The Rustic Dell, and put my hope and faith in Jesus.
It was a few weeks before Christmas 1982, I was a freshman in high school and I attended YoungLife's Winter Camp at the Mt. Hermon Conference Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was exactly what you would expect from a Christian teen youth camp. Over the top fun fueled by massive quantities of sugar and teen hormones. YoungLife accomplished their goal: they did not bore any of us!
The weekend had a serious side too. The main speaker came from Southern California. He instantly appealed to me, because he wasn't like any other Christian leader I had met. This guy was cool. He spoke to us in jeans and a sweatshirt. He lived near the beach and most importantly he surfed. That was enough validation for me. More than that, he talked about Christianity in a different way. He introduced us to Jesus in a personal way, which was new and intriguing to me.
As he spoke, his analogies of the Christian faith came from life, from the beach, from his own story. It wasn't wrapped up in liturgy (like I had been accustomed to). It wasn't packaged in theology (which would have confused me). It wasn't a trite pamphlet version of Christianity. He shared what he knew to be true from the Bible and brought examples from his own life. It permeated who he was as a follower of Christ and he shared that with us...and I was listening.
I don't remember the specifics, but I do remember that he explained the simple gospel message. He shared the bad news: We are dead in our sin and we need a redeemer. He shared the good news: Jesus is that redeemer. He will step in and save us in the midst of our sin. Most importantly, he shared the solution: Faith. Personal Faith.
He explained that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. We NEED a savior. We need Jesus to save us. God's Son died on our behalf and all we need to do is trust God. (I remember a story he shared with all of us about riding waves. The surfer stands on the board, the wave does all the work. Corny, right? But I still remember it 30 years later). As we left the chapel, he challenged us to consider how we had been viewing Christianity and to put our faith in Jesus.
I walked out of the chapel that night and headed back to my cabin to meet up with my friends. As I hit the trail, I hesitated for a moment and suddenly it all made sense. After a lifetime in the church, where my understanding of God was dictated mostly by behavior and attendance, I got it. I knew that living in a Christian family was not enough. Neither was baptism, communion or sitting in church on Sunday mornings. I needed saving. I needed Jesus. In an instant my life was changed.
Thirty years. God has been faithful to steer and direct my path. There have been great men and women that have helped to guide and direct.
How about you? Where are you putting your hope? Where are you searching for worth, value, identity, purpose? Want to know more about God and how He saves? Let me know. I'd be more than happy to share with you.
Quietly making noise,