2nd week ever student ministry gathering @ Ridge Church this past Sunday - Student Impact. We're still in our Rhythm series & the whole morning was about what I am possibly most passionate about... I just use different words sometimes.
We talked about WONDER. We all give our wonder to something. Every single person on earth chases after something that captures their wonder. And whatever captures our wonder, that's what we give our lives to.
In my humble opinion, the Church has done a sucky job of helping students see that God is the only One who is worthy of capturing our sense of wonder and that every other thing that WOWs us will never really satisfy us fully or make us ultimately happy. That's just the way we were created. We're missing something until God fully captures our wonder and all the other good things in life are just secondary.
I think only God can cause a student to "get" that, but I am passionate about trying everything we can to help them get there! So, we talked about it this past Sunday. They spent A LOT of quality time in their small groups talking about it more.
During my talk I read a quote from a book I read early on in my journey of "getting" the wonder of God. It's from C.S. Lewis' The Weight of Glory (and as I told the students, "yes, he did write other stuff besides The Chronicles of Narnia!"). The part at the very beginning of that book that left me breathless was this:
“if we consider the unblushing promises… in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. WE ARE FAR TOO EASILY PLEASED.”
Wow. I can still remember the 1st time I read that. I remember where I was sitting. It was a big moment. My whole life I thought that the strong desires I had for something to WOW me, to capture my wonder, to chase after something... were too strong & bad! But it was never that they were bad or that I was going after all that stuff... It was that = I was missing something even better! And if I would go after that infinite pleasure I would finally be satisfied!
I knew that quote wouldn't connect with the students like it did for me as a 21 year old, so I prayed and worked hard to contextualize it. Here's they story I came up with:
Think of your favorite band/musical artist. Your favorite one in the whole world... you have all their CDs and know all their songs. Imagine that later today someone gives you 2 free tickets to their concert! You start freaking out immediately and call your best friend to go with you to the concert because of course it's their favorite band too.
The concert gets closer and closer and the anticipation builds and builds. You are SO excited.
The day finally arrives and you and your friend walk into this HUGE stadium concert with 70,000 people! You are mesmerized by this scene. Your band comes out and starts playing the opener and you start singing along. You are so excited that you and your friend slip into 2 seats there in the back row where you walked in at.
It is an amazing night. They played all your favorite songs and you sing along with them all. You are hoarse. You took a ton of pics for Facebook. It was the night of your life. You were WOWed.
Your friend stays over at your house that night and you 2 stay up all night talking about the amazing experience at that concert. You relive every second of it together.
And then you pull the ticket stubs out of your pocket. You look at them really for the 1st time because when you got them you were so excited that you didn't bother to look closely. So, for the 1st time you notice that these tickets were for FRONT ROW SEATS! You can't believe that you didn't notice this! You could have been sitting 10 feet away from your favorite band instead of seemingly 10 miles away in the back row. You could have almost reached out and touched them. Maybe the guitar player would have tossed you a pick, or the drummer might have tossed you one of his sticks?
Then you flip the tickets over and see for the 1st time on the back that these were also BACK STAGE PASSES! They were good for an hour after the concert to hang out with your favorite band - meet them, take pictures with them, eat food with them, etc...
As awesome as the concert was in the back row, you cannot believe that you missed out on what would have been so much better!
God has given us so many good things to enjoy here on earth! They are awesome things. But when we are so WOWed by them that we miss the ultimate wonder - God - then we're like that kid making mud pies in the slum & skipping the vacation at the beach. Or we're like someone sitting in the back row when they could have been on the front row & backstage with their fav band.
So, of course students (& everyone) are going to keep chasing after "little wonders" = sex, sports, acceptance, money, clothes, popularity, drugs, etc... until we can help them see that the Ultimate Wonder is what they are missing out on and the only thing that can truly satisfy them.