I just don’t have it figured out. I don’t know what’s wrong with anything or anyone but me…for sure. But, of course, I have my theories.
What I hate is when a theory is given credence by experience. When that happens, cynicism gets fed, arrogance grabs the leash, and off we go together to punish the evil-doers.
On this last run of shows I stood on stage one night amazed as youth ministers stood up and lead their students out of the room. The music, they liked. The lights and sound, they dug. My mistake was simple. I stopped the “show” and said something like, “I don’t love music. I wake up in strange hotel rooms and leave my family for the weekend and drove all the way here because of what I get to tell you now. This is why I’m alive and I think it’s why you’re alive too…” And that’s when they bailed.
I’ve seen youth minsters do this at their national conferences too. A famous guy is singing, the lights swirling about him, the bass thumping a hole in every chest. Beach balls bounce around the arena. Grown men and women perform the modern day equivalent of “scratch another back next to you” and then… And then the music fades, a world-renowned speaker guy gets up – an inner city missionary or founder of some world relief organization or youth minster guru – and the crowd thins dramatically. Fun is over. I’m gone.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if we rock, learn or project with the best of them if we don’t love – if we don’t DO what we know about love. And that’s where I got my feelings hurt this weekend I suppose. It’s not DOing love to walk out on someone who’s sharing something he claims gives his life meaning.
What the students who left would have heard, had their chaperones let them stay and listen for seven more minutes, was what they’ve been saved for – not from. How they’ve been saved by God for saving others from evils like sickness and poverty. And I’d have offered them the chance to do what they know by saving a child through Compassion International. If our usual percentages would have held true, ten to fifteen percent of those teens would have sponsored a child that night (We haven’t had a night under ten percent yet.) Approximately 100 students and their leaders walked out on us. If they’d have stayed we might have saved ten to fifteen more kids’ lives: fed them, educated them, loved them, told them about Jesus. We could have made a bigger difference.
I confess then that I’ve let those youth ministers and that one night and all the “could haves” ruin my recollection of the rest of the trip. What a horrible flaw to have – the propensity to dwell on the unfilled part of the glass to the point that thanksgiving for the rest of it goes unoffered.
Sorry, God, for not being more thankful than I am angry. And suddenly I realize my own immaturities. And suddenly those youth ministers who walked out don’t seem worse than me, nor do I seem better. We’re just warped in different places – and we’re both neglecting to love. They can’t be bothered to sit still and respectfully and worshipfully listen, learn and then do. And I can’t get motivated to forgive them for it.
God, help us all to love what You love and forgive the way You do. And make the most out of all of us. Thank You for the lives saved. Use us to save the rest. And keep us from hurting and killing each other in the process.