Ten years ago. That’d be one decade ago. You all were bout 5,6, or 7 to really paint the picture. School was letting out at Chiles High School. Most of my friends didn’t take the bus so we would all wait by the car pickup. We’d talk about sports, tv, movies, girls, music. Our flip phones just achieved the capability of being able to store mp3’s and we could even buy our favorite songs to be ringtones. Every day things at pick up were pretty much the same. Until one day there was a new face talking to my friends. I walked over to see why this guy, who looked like he was in college, seemed to be so close with my friends. It was awkward to say the least. And yet he stuck his hand out and introduced himself as Trevor Muir.
One of the hardest nights of my life was this night, six years ago, when He, Matt Wallace and many of my closest friends were the ones standing here at my last Young Life club as a student at Chiles High School.
This night, is much harder than that.
Leaving is never easy. Especially when the thing you are leaving has brought you enough joy to fill a lifetime. When it has changed your life. When it has made you better. When it has filled your heart.
Last week Ashley shared that the death of Jesus was not the end of the story. Jesus returned. Alive. And as she said there was just a little bit left that Jesus wanted to tell his friends.
My friends, there is still just a little bit left that I would like to share with you.
This year we have talked about the life of Jesus, the three years of his life that changed the world. His death on a cross and his resurrection three days later. Just 40 days stood between Jesus and his last moment before leaving Earth. 40 days and then a moment on a mountain.
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”-Matthew 28.
Jesus then returned to his home. He ascended into Heaven. He gave his ministry over to his disciples, people, and asked them to continue his good work. And here we are 2,000 years later as a product of their work.
After his death and resurrection he spent 40 last days on earth and then ascended into heaven. He was leaving, but he wasn’t really. It wasn’t a goodbye or even a see you later. It was an “I will be with you, always, till the end of your days.” As leaders, as Christians, as people who realize that there is a better life to live than the one we try to live for ourselves, we do our best to follow Christ’s example. And though some of us are leaving you it’s not a goodbye, it’s not even a see you later, we will be with you. Two of the closest people in my life are my Young Life leaders Matt Wallace and Trevor Muir.
When you give your life over to Jesus. When you decide you are ready to follow him there may come a point where you try to do that alone. You try to search for the answers by yourself. Maybe you just want to be an individual and search for answers away from influence. I’ve been there. I’ve tried that.
Matt and Trevor knew that a person trying to follow Jesus on their own is such a difficult task. So they didn’t let me do that. They didn’t have all the right answers, they weren’t perfect people, heck they even made mistakes. But they loved me so freaking well and that is not something that stopped after they moved.
I say this to say one thing.
This doesn’t end. What we do here. What has been started here. What will continue here with these leaders. It is eternal. Jesus didn’t come to bring good times. A new religion. A long list of rules. He came to bring abundant life. Life so abundant he opened the door for that life to last forever.
My friends, I want you to have that more than anything in my life. I would die for you to have that.
There is a reality that is bursting forth right here. And you have been invited to be a part of it. It’s bigger than all your questions and all of your doubts. It’s bigger than the hatred of people who will disagree with you. It is worth being made fun of. It is worth being abandoned by your friends. It is worth dying for. It will change you and it will change the world.
You will make better friends following Jesus than you will ever make not following him. You will have better memories following Jesus than you will ever have without. You will find greater joy. You will find greater peace. You will find greater truth. When you hear Jesus talk about “abundant life” he wasn’t lying because that is what each and every one of your leaders feels every time they get to see you. You are the proof in our lives that Jesus gives what he says he’d give. You are our abundant lives.
I’ve said this before and I will say it again. You don’t have to wait for heaven. You don’t have to wait for heaven. You don’t have to wait for heaven. Heaven is now guys. Eternal life is something we can start now. And eternal life is something you can SHARE.
Jesus says in John, “very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” Don’t wait for that. Stop saying things like I’ll wait till after high school or till after college then I’ll follow Jesus. Why!? You don’t have to be perfect to follow him!? Lord knows I haven’t been. Jesus isn’t asking for perfection, he’s asking for faith and offering life. That is the greatest deal ever. Eternal life is yours now. It is not about heaven and hell then, someday, it is about love and it is about life.
I have tasted this life….and I have felt this love. I have seen this love. I have heard this love. Because ten years ago. A decade ago. When many of you were five, six, or seven. When that stupid flip phone could download ringtones. When I shook hands with that guy Trevor Muir. My life changed. Trevor got me to go to camp. Where the most important moment of my life happened. Where I sat angry at the stars furious at this God I wasn’t even sure existed. Asking him to prove that he cares about me. And being pushed to the ground. And hearing a voice that terrified me tell me “I love you. I love you. I love you.” And looking up to the stars and seeing a perfect constellation of a heart. Because the scariest moment of my life was the most beautiful moment as well. Because it is impossible for me to communicate just how much God loves you. And I don’t believe it I know it.
You matter to the creator of the stars.
To the healer of the blind.
To the calmer of the storms.
To the giver of life.
And he will never leave you.
He will be with you always.
Till the end of the age.
My young life leaders are the most important people to ever enter my life. Because they showed me what life was really about. That Jesus was more than religion. More than stories. But rather something I could see. Something I could feel. Something I could have a relationship with. Something that was involved with my life. The reason I became a leader is because they gave me the world. They gave me so much that I had to share it with you. I had to share it with kids I hadn’t met yet. Kids who are now some of my best friends. Kids who have changed my life.
I talk to Trevor Muir every week of my life. The jerk moved all the way to Michigan, Like who would ever move from Tallahassee and me!? Yet somehow he’s still one of the closest people in my life. He helps me walk this road. I still go to him in my times of trouble. Shoot I went to him to help me with this talk.
We remain brothers in this eternal life with Jesus. Tackling the hard questions. Sharing our music with each other. Talking about Dave Matthews, about Stephen King, about LOST, about his wife, about his one year old son, and about you. Sharing our lives together.
1 Thessalonians 2:8
Because we loved you so much we were delighted to share not only the gospel of god but our lives as well.
*Invite Matt Colin and Becky up*
We love you so much. We were delighted to share with you not only Jesus, but our lives as well.