You’re about to read a life-changing story from Madison that took her relationship with Jesus to a new intimate level. Her words are inspiring, challenging, and encouraging!
Madison is a high school senior. She serves on various teams at our church, but the one that excites me the most is that she’s a member of our prayer team. Being introverted by nature, she steps out of her comfort zone weekly and prays for individuals she’s never met before. She’s making a difference — and this blog is no different!
Some days, life can be as crazy as standing in the middle of a hurricane and watching things fly by. On other days it can be as calm as sitting on a beach and listening to the peacefulness of the waves.
Whether someone is begging for the hurricane to be over or soaking in the stillness of the beach – JESUS is present.
This particular Saturday afternoon was one that lands, somewhat, in a place that seemed similar to the madness of a storm. At the time, I was sitting in this random room in a church, and it was as if I was aching for peace.
There were empty, brown metal chairs everywhere in the room. I observed my surroundings as a sea of teenagers barged in from outside. They separated into every direction. Whispers filled the little room as we waited for the evening to start.
With my family in ministry and growing up in church, I had been to many of these church gatherings before.
… so I told myself that it was going to be just like the rest of them.
I found my seat next to some friends and fell into small conversation. As I became uninterested in the girls’ discussion minutes later, I began to focus on the soft background music.
I recognized the song, and as it played through my head my friend leaned over and told me how excited she was. I began to think that maybe, just maybe, this one would be different than the others, but my mind instantly shook the thought away.
Shortly after, the music began to die down and a man walked to the front of the stage. His walk seemed like it was slow-motion, and I could feel the atmosphere heighten as the room grew quieter.
The man introduced himself as the youth pastor and welcomed everyone. I scrambled in my seat to get a better look at the pastor and the many other people that filled the room.
He passionately spoke about how much God loves every single one us, and I somehow felt like he was talking directly to me. I felt this calming feeling as I intensely listened to him talk about how great God is (I mean who wouldn’t).
I suddenly started feeling slightly uncomfortable in my seat.
In a way I knew the Lord was trying to speak to me in this exact moment, but as I looked at my friends, I could read their blank expressions.
The music began to softly play behind the pastor’s words; as he began to close his message, his words started to pull me back in. Then he asked us to stand.
As I found a good position to see over the crowd in front of me, the pastor made direct eye contact with me. I got a warm chill through my body.
In a split second, it seemed like time stood s t i l l.
My thoughts quickly focused on everything I seemed to know about God. Thoughts about how He gave up his life for someone like me when I did NOT deserve it. A thought came that maybe God is even bigger than I had portrayed Him.
After what felt like forever, I snapped back to reality, and it was impossible to shake the feeling that ran through my body. My heart began to race, and my hands started to sweat.
As I leaned into what the pastor was saying again, I started to believe that maybe this whole thing is meant to be more than just a church service.
He explained how even while we were unclean, unworthy sinners, Christ died for every single one of us; not just the “good” or “righteous” people, but for the broken and the bruised.
The pastor started to invite people to come to the altar and pray, but (not being a very fearless person) I decided to stay at my chair as one or two teens slowly moved to the front. I had an urge to go forward, but again, I decided to stay where I was.
I ignored the nudge because I couldn’t find the strength to move.
The pastor was quiet for just a moment, but I could still hear his words from the sermon repeating in my head: “No matter what you think you did to separate yourself from God, He will always be beside you.”
His voice echoed in my mind, but then it suddenly stopped. I focused my eyes on my feet to try to escape the intensity of the moment but was startled by some particular words in my head.
At first, I didn’t believe it to be God, but again I heard His words:
Seconds later, my feet began to move. As soon as I reached the altar, I fell to my knees and began to sob. Filled with so much joy I began to cry even harder – and if you know me, I am an UGLY crier.
The friend I sat with earlier walked straight toward me, and in one quick moment I knew what I had experienced.
I knew I had been stuck in what seemed like a huge storm. I knew that my God was big, but I did not fully believe he could get me out. I knew I couldn’t get out alone but felt there was no other way. The second I stepped away from my seat that night, I knew my life had changed.
From this experience, I learned three big things:
1. God is bigger than the storm.
He is there. He is there in the middle of everything you go through. He is bigger. Bigger than any problem you face. When life seems overwhelming, remember God is bigger.
2. God is always moving.
No matter how calm your storms are or how still things seem, God is working in your life. Continue to trust in the plans that God has promised you.
3. God is my strength.
When it felt like I couldn’t possibly stand in the storm, it’s because I needed to remember that I need God to stand with me. Life is tough and can be exhausting, but with your strength lying in the hands of the King -- it’s all worth it.