Twelve years ago I volunteered to be a chaperone for the high school confirmation retreat at my church. I was comparatively equal to a teenager in my spiritual growth at the time but hungry to soak in every opportunity to learn and grow. I apparently played a good game of knowing something because I was asked to give a talk on the retreat. I’d like to think the Holy Spirit was so alive in me it’s all anyone could see.
I’ll never forget that first talk. I was honest about my experience of confirmation. How I failed to see the gift in receiving the Holy Spirit and recognizing the true freedom a relationship with Christ could bring.
After the talk a young man wanted to speak with me. We sat out on the porch and I listened to this young man’s personal concerns and situations he suffered that affected him deeply. I remember how desperate I felt listening to him, fearful he’d make the same mistakes as I did and walk away from the gift of faith.
I don’t recall what I had said but I remember whatever God gave me to say affected him enough that later he asked me to be his sponsor. I was honored and took the position seriously, making sure to be involved in his spiritual growth.
I’ve kept in touch with this young man off and on throughout the years and have always been proud of the young adult he has become. However, nothing could prepare me for the gift I received from him this morning. I woke up to the following message:
“I just spent and hour on the phone with a past client from the group home I work at…..he was crying and upset, talked a lot about ending his life because he couldn’t deal with family stress and his situation.
I tell you this because I am your disciple. I feel like God spoke through me tonight like God spoke through you when I told you about my life when I was young. I still remember you telling me that God had a reason for us to speak. I’ve never ever let go of that, and its been so very profound in my life that felt I could follow you into a pit of hell and if you told me it would be okay, I would truly believe it.
This may sound strange and out of the blue but…. What you did for me has stayed with me and I feel like you have opened a channel in me that let’s God speak through me as well. I never felt a true connection with Jesus and the whole disciple ideology until I met you. This is what it is like. You don’t make me feel silly when I tell you things because I feel loved and know that you would never judge me. I feel like no matter how big an obstacle I faced, if you said I would get through it, I would.
I’m so very grateful I was able to help the 16 year old boy tonight…and I don’t think I could have done it without you. I am humbled by your love and caring, and I pray to God I can repay you for it someday. Thank you Shannon.”
I told him he already repaid me by being a voice of God’s love to that 16 year old young man.
Now, side note, NO I do not encourage people to think of themselves as ‘my disciples’. The ONLY person with disciples is JESUS CHRIST. What I believe he is saying is that he saw Christ IN me and hence wanted to strive for the same. Isn’t that what we are all called to do as Christians? Be disciples of Christ?
What is a greater gift for me is knowing what began in this young man was so many years ago and at a time when I felt like the least person that deserved to be imitated or followed in any way. Just goes to show when we are mirroring His image and love, desiring to follow His will and loving others as we love Him your yesterday doesn’t matter.