To my friends and family at Swift Creek,
Four years ago, I had not met any of you. I had not met any of your leaders; I had not yet stepped on to this campus. I was graduating High School and I had just gone through my last Young Life club. The night of my last Young Life club will forever live in my mind as a special night. All of the high school seniors and all of our leaders gathered in a house upstairs for prayer and goodbyes. It was there that night that I realized how special of a thing it was to have something like this. A place to be known, a place where people really cared about me, A place where I was fully, completely, abundantly…loved. That night in a tiny room there wasn’t a dry eye. Because we knew that we were all moving on from something so very unique. So very special.
That summer after high school I had decided that I wouldn’t be a Young Life leader. I was still very connected with all of my friends and leaders but I was living in a way that I didn’t see fit of being an example to younger kids. I looked up to my Young Life leaders so much and I didn’t feel like I could be the same example that they were and so when they started meeting in college for new leaders I didn’t go to training while all of my other friends did.
So my first message that I would like to leave you with is that God’s plan is not always your plan.
The second, is that God saves.
God saved me from making the biggest mistake of my life.
Because there has been no greater joy in my 22 years of living than these past four years with you.
That year before I met any of you I thought of my Young Life leader Trevor. We were having this big bonfire and all the leaders in Tallahassee were present. We were going around the circle sharing about ourselves and it came my turn to speak. This is what I shared:
“I am the Christian that I am because some goofy tan skinny guy came up and talked to me about a show about Superman called Smallville. Because he helped get me to camp where for the first time I found God. He was there for me. He invited me to his wedding for crying out loud. He talked to me about Smallville and now I’m a Young Life leader. I am a leader because I want to give back to the people that gave me so much. I do this because what if one day, someone is standing here, some kid I haven’t even met yet, is saying the exact same things about me. That is my goal. That is my mission. If I can show just one kid Christ my life was worth it. If I can share this love I have found with just one Swift Creek Middle Schooler I will have a joy that will last a lifetime.”
So after saying this a third thing I want to leave you with and it is of great importance.
This is YOUR faith. Believing in Jesus, following Christ is yours. Not mine wanting you to. Not your parents, not your pastors. It’s yours. Your parents, pastors and us leaders want more than anything and I mean ANYTHING for you to find the love that we have found in Christ Jesus because you will never find anything as spectacular as Him. You can search and search and search but the only thing that can completely fill your life is Christ. And the guys, when we get together, we talk about this often, but Heaven is not about awesome gifts and golden streets and seeing our friends again it’s about being with God. It is about being with the God who is love. This love changed my entire life. It changed who I am. It changed where I’m headed. It changed my heart. It changed EVERYTHING! I am not the same person I was four years ago and it is because of JESUS. My life is not perfect. My life is not easy. Things may not always make sense. People can still hurt me. Friends can make fun of us. Families can break apart. Loved ones may die. BUT JESUS LOVES ME. AND JESUS IS LIFE! And he gave himself for you. Every one of you in this room is loved by God.
So my last and fourth message to you is this. You do NOT have to wait for heaven. I have found heaven every week coming out here to hang out with you guys. You guys are beyond blessed to be students at Swift Creek. You have a staff that completely and truly cares about you. You have teachers that want this program here. And we are forever grateful to them for letting us have this club here. We are the only school in the city of Tallahassee that has been allowed to do this at school. Friends, you are lucky, you are blessed. God cares about Swift Creek in ways that are visible to this entire area. And friends you are a blessing. To each and every one of us leaders. You matter to us. There is a verse in the Bible that sums up why we are here perfectly.
1 Thessalonians 2:8
Because we love you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the good news of God, but our lives as well.
So to get to the thing that I really don’t want to do…
It has been an honor, a blessing, and a source of tremendous joy to share our lives with you. Because we love you so much. You matter to us. We are here for you. And we pray for each of you.
Grace, peace, hope, and joy to all of you,
Thank you for being a part of my life.