As I was looking through Instagram yesterday I saw a picture my friend Chris had posted of being in PCB for Big Stuf camp. The view of the parking lot and another hotel flooded me with memories from when I went to church camp there 14 years ago. As I started thinking about that particular camp, as it was my last in the youth group at my hometown church, I suddenly realized it was the exact day 14 years ago that asked Christ into my life.
This picture was taken 14 days ago this morning as my youth leader baptized me in the Gulf of Mexico as I could not wait to obey and follow my salvation with it. These moments have changed me, who I am, forever. I sit here now as a teenage Christian of sorts, reminiscing on those first moments of my coming to life in Christ.
I held a very defiant attitude about life for most of my childhood. Many say that’s a product of being the youngest child, but I definitely chose my reactions and actions purposefully for many years. I often call this the “You’re not the boss of me” mindset. Let’s be honest, I still wrestle with that from time to time. Now though, it’s a conversation I have with God.
For some of those teenage years I thought I did know Christ, having grown up in the church. Yet deep down, on that Friday night in a hotel in Panama City my heart told me otherwise. I had been having a conversation with one of my friends in the room with me about feeling some tug on my heart that I couldn’t explain. I remember seeing others in worship time and not feeling the same draw to worship, at all. (Many can debate this topic but I know my heart and how it is drawn to music. I knew something wasn’t right.)
I am thankful for youth leaders and their families because our minister’s wife took time to talk specifically with me about my heart in relationship with Christ. There was no shame in coming to question where my life was in the salvation story because head knowledge isn’t the same as heart knowledge. Just because one grows up in a church does not mean one simply is a believer. i had to come to terms with that to recognize my eternity was hinging on pride and what others would think of me.
Fourteen years later looks very different in a life following Christ, loving the way He does, and still at times battling the flesh that wants to be its own person. I will never regret that choice, because life is far greater knowing Him than being alone in this world. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Don’t be surprised if I get excited about church camps because for me, they changed my eternity. They are worth it. I pray every teenager has that opportunity. Investing in the lives of teenagers is vital and I am so thankful for each and every person who works in that ministry. It is another reason why I am involved in college ministry, as I was thrust into college right after my salvation and got lost a bit.