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Call Me Crazy

Call me crazy if you like, but one of the best things I’ve done over the past month was waking up at 5:45 am. It was on my youth group’s annual Beach Retreat that we take every Labor Day weekend. The night before I had fallen into my air mattress well past midnight and the next morning came entirely too soon. Yet, I rose to rouse a packed house of teenagers for a sunrise walk down the beach.

Have you ever been among groggy teenagers at 6am? It’s normally not a very pleasant experience. Sure, it took some extra ruffling and a few more pokes in the shoulder and maybe a few got left behind because they couldn’t make muster. But this time, on this morning, it was something special.

Once they made it out on the beach, it all became worth the early wake-up. Being on the beach at sunrise is a special moment. In many ways, it’s a holy moment. It’s a time when you can let go of yourself.

The rhythm of the waves crashing on the sand provides a cadence for your steps; the air switches from cool to warm like the tide rolling in and out; the breeze floods your ears and drowns out other noises. Time stops, but the world keeps spinning around you and you’re just along for the beautiful ride.

In those precious moments I was able witness young people encountering God in a tangible way. They saw God’s majesty in the colors reflected on the water. They heard the thunder of God’s orchestra in the waves. Wonder is an emotion best captured in the face of a young person, because they’re not too old to still believe in it. They aren’t fully weighted down by the world yet, so the hope from wondering is still within reach most days.

Since that morning a month ago I’ve reflected on the wonder I saw in the eyes of those young people. I am still struck by the unfiltered awe and hope that reflected off of their faces in the sunrise. In this last month much has happened that threatens to steal that awe and that hope. People have suffered and are still suffering from natural disasters. Families mourn love ones lost to orchestrated and terrible violence. The world careens faster and faster as breaking news after breaking news berates our senses and beats down our capacity to notice.

And yet, I am struck by their faces: the faces of those young people staring into the sunrise.

Young people bear the mantle of hope from their predecessors. It’s not fair to them, but nevertheless it’s the way it’s always been and probably always will be. Call me crazy, but they give me hope in the here and now. In their faces of awe and wonder I am reminded of the God that made the sun to rise. I am reminded of the hope in each new day.

Lamentations is a very sad book in the Old Testament and unfortunately its tone becomes more and more applicable with each breaking news story. The writer bemoans everything about life, but in the midst of the lamenting includes this oft repeated refrain in chapter 3 (NIV):

Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

   great is your faithfulness.

That “great love” does not change. God’s compassions are always present with us. They may seem out of sight and never within reach, but do not become overwhelmed and without hope. With every new day we have the chance to reckon with the wonder of what those unfailing compassions mean: that God’s presence is real amongst us and God’s spirit of hope does not leave us.

In that holy moment on the beach watching those young people watching the sun come up I encountered unfiltered wonder and hope. Call me crazy, but that moment has buoyed my own hope through each confrontation with the seemingly unending stream of violence, disaster, and destruction. This world is not without hope; we just have to be attentive to the holy moments that remind us of that.

 

 

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Josh Godwin

There a handful of things in this life I truly love: my God, my wife, my dog, my town, my Cheerwine. I also love ministering with teenagers to help them realize God's love and everything God made them to be.

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