I Want What They've Got
I love my home church, the one I grew up attending, that I haven't been back to in over 20 years. But back then, the whole "church thing" on Sunday mornings was a bit dull, lifeless. I was confirmed at the age of 15, and walked away.
I'm not entirely sure why I returned a month or so later, the only way I can describe it was that Sunday mornings didn't feel the same without going, but, hindsight being a wonderful thing, God probably had something to do with it.
Then my first youth group retreat/weekend away happened. I was 19, and responsible for organizing it. There were "proper" adults with us, but they had entrusted us (me and another young leader) to organize this trip to Bangor, Northern Ireland. Friday night and Saturday happened, I have very vague memories at this stage of the weekend, but Sunday was to be a transformational day for me. Worship.
It was different to anything I had experienced before, coming from a wee Methodist church in Bray, Co Wicklow (just outside Dublin) in that there were drums and everything else that I now no longer bat an eyelid at. What captured me though, was I was surrounded by people my age and younger who meant what they were doing, not going through the motions like I was used to doing. They either knew something, or had something, that I didn't, and I wanted it. Turns out the knew someone rather than something that I didn't.
I've still got the Bible I dug out that night at home, and can still hazily remember the 1990s decor in my room too... My prayer that night, that changed my life, was something along the lines of "Ok God, if you're real, I want to know." Nothing happened. I did though, start reading that Bible, one I'd been given for my Confirmation a few years previously. It had a one year reading plan in the back of it, so I started there. Little did I know then the doors that would soon open and the journey I was about to embark on....
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