Last week I visited a mega-church, and I sat behind a group of college and high school students who were goofing off and checking their phones and leaving early. One of their mothers left in the middle of the sermon and didn’t come back. I started getting terribly sad and angry about the whole thing; they all had Bibles in their hands and some had notepads to take notes, but they were just being rowdy and whispering loudly and laughing at the most inappropriate times. I thought, This is it, this is our future of church. No one cares.
And then — I remembered when I was in high school and college, and how much I goofed off and talked during the sermon and was so dang fidgety and rowdy, and how God still worked through a young rebellious punk like me. I remembered how God side-tackled me into pastoral ministry and blessed me with a full scholarship to seminary and pulverized my heart into a Jesus-loving, people-serving, unashamed follower. Not perfect, never, but far from where I used to be in the very same place as those kids.
So I stopped judging and I started praying. I prayed for big visions for all of them, that God would do incredible wonderful things that they could barely believe were happening — amazing works that they never thought possible. I mean if I went back to my past self ten years ago and said, “Here’s what you’re going to do for God,” I never would’ve believed it. But this is what Jesus does. He takes the most ragged, rowdy, unlikely wanderer and puts us on the frontlines to flex His glory, to wield His love, to heal people just like us. He’s always doing things like that: and it gives me hope. It gives me patience, and grace.