I have often pondered why so many youths come young adults find their faith wayward after living so wholeheartedly for their Creator. What beckons collegiate students to leave their experiences, their declarations, their doctrines behind in a mass exodus from churches, parishes, and fellowships? Maybe one explanation for this trend could be the way that said youth meets and and encounters God. The often hyper spiritual, music laden, camp driven, tear-filled and sobbing, altar call occurrence is common for many youths and rightly so…nothing wrong with this emotional based encounter with God. We are as much emotional as we are logical, and an emotional based decision to follow Jesus is not any less valid then one made with a more scientific approach to faith (this is a blog for another time). I call these ardent happenings, these epiphany incidents, these "aha" events, Apex moments.
This height of spiritual awareness where we sense the direction of the Holy Spirit and where God is as real as the person standing next to you. The Lord is speaking and you hear His call and are able to respond in turn. Your belief is unshakable, your doctrine unmovable, and your faith is larger than any mustard seed. These are the moments that define who you are and give you purpose and identity. This is revelation and it creates response.
Response is the action in which we play out what we believe. It's evidence that yesterdays altar call was real. The response is the reason men change majors, doctors become missionaries, addicts choose life, marriages are saved, wavering single mothers become devoted matriarchs, and Facebook status' updated with compelling and gaudy ALL CAPS declarations (I despise all caps) confessing that they are a new creation in Christ. This Apex moment becomes their testimony, their God story. And this may be the problem. Because for many youths, that moment becomes the cornerstone of their faith. They remember Jesus in that moment, as if he was frozen in time, a relationship based on a singular event. They fall in love with a snapshot, a polaroid of beauty, rather than pursue the rawness of a real relationship. And eventually the gas tank of their faith begins to run empty and their faith dangerously runs on fumes. No new wine is poured into their wineskin and ultimately Jesus and “church” was something they did “back in the day” or “when the were younger.” Faith is discarded as a mere fad, something they did for a period of time. Confusion takes root and some feel hurt, some discredit God, some disbelieve that God even exists. Others feel manipulated by the emotionalism of church, appalled by the hypocrisy of protestants.
The difference I have noticed between those that thrive in their faith and those that eventually fade is this: the seeds that are planted in good soil, the believers that show longevity in loving God, have more than one apex moment in their lives. Matter of fact, apex moments happen regularly, often, and from season to season. Their “testimony” is only the initial apex moment. It’s is the first of many encounters with Christ. And these encounters are far deeper and more fruitful. Quiet moments with the Word where the Holy Spirit reveals the Father’s heart. Conversations with a mentor that spurs a challenge of faith. Gentle admonition from a friend that helps you reveal a previous blind spot. And yes, more altar call moments, with hands lifted high, voices raised proclaiming new declarations of consecration and repentance. And again, when revelation happens, these lifers answer with response. They do something about their moment of clarity. I mean, how preposterous would it be for a married couple to expect life long martial bliss when their love hinged on the first time they were intimate? And yet, many believers have only a few moments where we feel true revelation and how utterly tragic that is! Because to know God, to begin to understand the heart of Jesus is parallel to falling in love with a beautiful woman, but not just her outward appearance but the beauty that comes from learning one another and being completely understood by a single person; its the moments of surrender and vulnerability and the confidence in knowing you are free to be you. This kind of love only comes with endless conversations, episodes of laughter and adversity, overcoming calamity and catastrophe, and consistency during the uninteresting, uninspiring, and vapid moments in life…which is often found doing dishes and laundry.
Its in this longevity with Jesus that keeps us close to Him because God is infinitely interesting and countlessly colorful and creative. The rhythm of spiritual growth and longevity is revelation and response.
So whats the practical application here? Psalms 1:3 gives an indication where to start “[The blessed man] is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Plant yourself with an open heart and God’s word. Thats a good a place to start as any and when revelation comes, respond.