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by Katie Marie Rowden
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Of all the places I’ve ever set foot, one small waterfront city holds my heart – the timeless shores of Grand Haven, Michigan. I must say, though I may be biased, it is arguably the most beautiful area in all of Western Michigan, if not the country. I was raised not far from its perfect beaches, but I’ve lived out of state so much over the last few years, I haven’t visited that favorite place in almost two summers.

Last night was the perfect night; I celebrated my birthday’s eve right out on Grand Haven’s famous pier. Just as the spring sun was setting over the vast waters of Lake Michigan, my party people and I strolled down the massive pier. I was struck by the profound beauty of that place. God was all around...

The past few weeks the weather has carried such a nip on its breezes, not many people could have withstood direct exposure to the wind-chill whipping across the waters. But yesterday was the very first time it had reached the mid to even upper 60’s since the fall. With a slight touch of humidity in the air, the moisture held the heat of the radiant day and wrapped us in a blanket of warmth. It was glorious!

As we ventured towards the tip of the jetty, off in the distance I heard the faint trailing of an acoustic guitar. Before I could even pick out a single note or recognize a lyric, deep inside I knew what I was hearing...the unmistakable sounds of worship. We made our way around to the very head of the pier and my intuition proved correct. There before us sat a gathering of high school students led by a single 6-string guitarist. This group was passionately pursuing the heart of God, and He was definitely inhabiting the praises of these young people.

I was taken aback...

You see, what I had stumbled upon was certainly not the type of situation you’d experience on any given Saturday night at the end of the Grand Haven pier. In fact, I was so excited to encounter such an awesome phenomenon, that I walked right up and asked them what church they all went to. Much to my surprise, they all explained that each went to different churches scattered throughout the Grand Rapids area.

These teens had made plans to drive 60-some miles to gather out at the beach just so they could publicly display adoration for the One who made them. And they didn’t wait until the sun had set to begin worshiping. They didn’t hide their faces under the cover of darkness; they boldly began to express deep love for their Savior in clear daylight.

If this cluster of young people gives even a glimpse of the emerging generation, this world had better just hold on. To quote Hillsong’s lyrics, “I see a generation rising up to take their place with selfless faith." That is exactly what I witnessed last night – selfless faith. Instead of getting wild at a house party, this group was crazy for Jesus and they weren't ashamed to show it. They could have been out anywhere painting the towns all shades of red, but instead they had placed themselves upon that sturdy, Lighthouse-decorated landmark...it was their platform for praise.

There is nothing like standing with arms splayed out wide before an endless view of rolling waters. Few things compare to gazing out at the brilliantly painted horizon, giving your heart to the One who brushed in every color and detail. And because of these teens' selfless faith, I was given a spontaneous opportunity to worship my God with abandon in that exact way...

As I stood there joining my voice with their harmonies, I lifted my thanks and hands to the Creator of all things. I smiled up at the moon sliced sky as we proclaimed, “Together we sing: Holy is the Lord God Almighty; the earth is filled with His glory; the earth is filled with His glory...” I will never forget the moments we shared.

To any of my new pier friends reading this: I wasn’t joking when I said you all were my birthday gift from Jesus. You truly were - thank you for touching me with your awesome hearts and conversation. I can’t think of a more meaningful way to ring in another year of life than to worship the RISEN Savior, Jesus Christ, with all of you.

You, my sweet high school friends, are an inspiration...not just to me, but to all who saw and heard you last night. We were deeply impacted as we witnessed such a passionate group of worshipers. Clearly, you understand that our God is a mighty God...He’s a tangible God...and He is so worthy of our praise.

To each person taking in these words today: I pray that with every breath you take, you would exhale more and more of Jesus’ passion and grace into this dying world. I pray God ignites your heart to inferno proportions as you go out, a living example of the redeemed life available through Christ. Continue to radiate God’s all-consuming love for His treasured creation; never stop shining for Him.

May each of us stand as a constant, faithful beacon of light, flashing to all of those souls stranded out in the foggy seas of this life...

“...Become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:15-16 (NIV)

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