It came with such suddenness that I was completely shocked. It was a typical Wednesday evening and I was sitting on the dry grass outside the church building with a group of junior-high students. My first year in college, I had decided to be a sponsor for this church group that met every Sunday morning and Wednesday night. No one knew better than me, what a hyperactive bunch junior-highers were. At the age between child and adult, the awkwardness of these adolescents was evident. It was difficult to keep their attention for any amount of time.
Maybe that was why we decided to hold the worship service on the grass outside the church. The youth pastor may have thought that a natural environment would spark a deeper devotion to praising God. Whatever the reason, I was seated outside, surrounded by kids I had come to know pretty well in a few short months. The sun was still high in the sky on that September evening, as the youth pastor started a song on his guitar. Everyone was slightly restless and I questioned whether this was a good idea, as I tried to quiet a few students.
As the music played on and we sang, I scanned the crowd before me. In front of me sat a popular boy with red hair. He was a good-looking kid with a mellow personality. His friends were beside him and seemed to be snickering among themselves. A warm breeze blew my wavy hair. I closed my eyes in order to focus more on God and less on the distractions around me.
That is when it happened. It was like a flash across my mind, imprinting on it, a picture that I had not created. Suddenly, I saw before me the same exact scene that I had viewed with my eyes open only a second before. There was the brown grass, the sun making its way towards the west, and the youth pastor playing his guitar. Yet something was distinctly different about the setting. Instead of sitting on the grass silently listening to the music, or whispering to their friends, the junior-highers were knelling on the ground. Some of them had their hands in the air, others their faces to the ground in prayer. Something had significantly happened to these kids. Everyone seemed lost in the moment with eyes closed and tears streaming down their faces. The air was filled with the loud prayers of students who, for the first time, didn’t seem to care what their peers thought of them.
The thing that struck me with the greatest force was the image of the redheaded kid that was in front of me. He was on his knees, like the others, but was crying out to God, “Change me, change me!” His eyes closed, the expression on his face was one of deep desire and longing, as tears rolled down his cheeks. It was so real, that for the split second that it happened, I forgot that I had even closed my eyes.
Shocked, I opened my eyes. There, before me, sat every kid that I had seen so clearly imprinted on my mind. Yet they were as I had seen them before, giggling and whispering. I stared in wonder at the redheaded boy in front of me. His friend said something into his ear and he laughed as his flingers carelessly pulled out a few blades of dry grass.