“So, what about you?” he questioned.
It is more of a rhetorical question, directed towards the entire youth group, but it still made me squirm.
“This is lame.” My best friend, Cayla, whispers to me. “The only reason I still come is for that.” She says nodding over to Michel, the worship leader for the youth group.
Michel is six-foot-two, eye candy. He sings and plays guitar. He’s an honor student. Always goes to church and youth group functions. He’s a good boy.
So he’s completely out of the question.
However, that’s not the reason he’s out of the question. It’s because I’m not a good girl. I don’t go to every youth group function, and I only go to church when forced.
And those are just the good things.
I’ve done more things at seventeen than most people do in their entire careers as sin seekers.
And he has a girlfriend.
Girlfriends never used to stop me. But things seem different now.
My parents have been making me go to youth group stuff more often these days. Every time I sit in one of these incredibly uncomfortable chairs, I squirm. It’s like the youth pastor, Jacob, is talking to me personally. Almost like he knows everything.
I don’t like it.
I start to tune back into tonight’s lesson.
“Do you guys run from the first signs of trouble in your relationship with God? Turn to Matthew chapter thirteen. Starting in verse three,” he pauses and looks up at us, “I want you guys to really consider these verses. Where do you fit in?”
“Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! New King James version.”
Our youth pastor’s eyes are deep, dark, and serious. They are screaming at us to understand what’s being said.
“You guys,” Jacob says, “This parable is talking about the condition of our hearts. Right now I am planting a seed in each of you hearts. Whether or not that seed takes root in your heart depends on the condition of your heart. Are you so focused on shallow stuff that God’s word can’t grow in you? Do your friends choke it out of you when you try to follow God? Do trials and temptations make you feel like you can’t trust God? Following God isn’t easy, but don’t let all the things the world throws at you make you think it’s better to checkout of God’s kingdom. Your time of harvest will come. You will reap so many rewards and blessings-especially in your relationship with God.”
The room is utterly silent. I think you could hear a fly crash land all the way in the parking lot.
“The True Lover of your souls is knocking on your hearts tonight. He wants in. Will you let Him? Will you let Him go to work on the dirt of your heart so that it becomes a place where He can grow in you? Or will you leave here tonight to continue with your life the way it was before? It’s time to decide, guys. Check in or checkout.” Jacob sighs. “Jeremy will you close us in prayer.”
I don’t hear much of the prayer. My mind is scrabbling. As I open my eyes I can see a blurry Jacob looking at me. I realize tears are falling down my face. Great. Just great.
Cayla is giving me a funny look. “Do you want to go to that party tonight?” she asks.
“Um, no thanks.” I mumble.
“Whatever,” she says and leaves. I sit there as everyone else visits and eventually leaves. Jacob and his wife, Chloe, come over to me. Instead of talking, they sit down next to me and wait.
Finally, I say what my heart has been longing to say.
“I want to check in. I want God.”
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