November 7, 2005 by Isaac Hovet
I believe that everyone of us is an unfolding story. Some chapters are complete. Some are will be written in the future, but many are being written even as you and I are here tonight. Tonight I would like to tell you a chapter out of the book of my life. This particular chapter is one of the most important chapters of my story.
It was the summer of 1994. It was the last night of summer camp. I remember it vividly. In spite of the huge fans roaring in their feeble attempt to cool the room, the air hung thick around me. In slow motion I scanned around the chapel, wondering if anyone else felt like a gentle hand was reaching into their soul, tugging them to take a step that they had never taken before. As I cautiously looked, I saw people lost in the throbbing worship. Their eyes were shut, their faces peaceful or intent, but none of them were exhibiting any of the signs of fear that I was feeling. I sat, hopeful that if I changed my posture, the rising emotion inside of me would cease. It was no use. Sweat began to gather under my eyes and on my forehead, even the fan just to my left couldn’t contain the perspiration. My nerves were unraveling. What was happening to me? No amount of straining brought clarity. I could arrive at no conclusion.
Then, to my left I saw a man begin to approach the stage. He walked slowly and with a certain amount of hesitation, as if he fought the same undeniable sense of anticipation and fear as I did. His face was troubled, but not set in grimace or frown. The corners of his mouth trembled, as if he knew that what followed could lead to a joyous smile or a devastating disappointment. My mind raced to figure out what this man was about, but my heart, my soul and the fist in my torso knew what was coming. This man was going to bring clarity to murky mire of emotion embedded in my stomach. I can’t say that this knowledge calmed the chaos inside of me, but it was pacifying to realize that good or bad, I was not in this moment alone.
The man now had a microphone. He raised it to his lips as if to speak, but then pulled it away quickly. His eyes closed tight and he bowed his head slightly. I was close enough to see that he was whispering or mouthing something. If he was feeling anything like me I am sure that he was praying. With his head still bowed he opened his eyes. He again placed the microphone in front of his mouth. The music quieted. Eyes opened. People were now focusing on the man about to speak. He raised his head as he addressed the crowd. His voice was quiet and his words simple.
He said, “Someone here feels that God is leading them and that person needs to come talk to me.”
Suddenly there was no question in my mind. His words were for me. God was asking me to go talk to that man. So, I got up and approached him. He had now moved off to the side of the stage. His eyes were closed again. I touched him on the shoulder and he raised his head to look at me. As our eyes met, all of the emotion that was sitting inside of me came rushing out. He placed his hands on my shoulders and began to quietly pray. He prayed for me. He prayed that as I now made a step of obedience to God that God would give me the strength and courage I needed to continue. All I could do was sob. In the next moments God spoke so much into my life.
Mostly, he spoke to me about devotion.
You see, previous to this I called myself a Christian. My parents were Christians. I went to church every Sunday. I attended our youth group. I went to Bible Study.
But…did I go to these things out of devotion to Jesus?
God showed me on that night that I was not devoted to Jesus. I had been devoted to maintaining a Christian image. For who? For the Christians around me that I wanted to continue relationship with.
So, Jesus was in those moments at camp called me out. I may have fooled other people into thinking that I had it all together. I may have even fooled myself. But I wasn’t fooling Jesus. Jesus looked right into my heart and saw that it was cloudy and confused.
Are you cloudy and confused?