Before our group left for CIY, my lovely bride gave everyone in the group two 3X5 cards for us to write prayer requests. My first card was a prayer request that God would teach me how to pray better, to listen to His voice, and to be an intercessor for others. My other prayer card was simply that I would be focused on others and not be selfish.
Wednesday night in the middle of CIY, the director of the conference, Nate, came up to me and asked me if I would be willing to participate in a powerful event for the youth. Now, the theme of the day was Injury, and throughout the day, we had taught the youth about how to handle hurts and pains with which they had struggled.
He explained to me that during the evening session, there would be six 4X8 foot sheets of Plexiglas around the auditorium. During the session, the youth would be invited to write their biggest hurts and pains in black marker on the Plexiglas sheets. At the end of the session, the sheets would be brought together on stage to make an isolation chamber of sorts, and the climax of the night would be to have someone stay inside the chamber all night and pray for the youth and their hurts. As the memory of my prayer cards resonated within me, I agreed to be the advocate.
It was a difficult and powerful time to be surrounded by the hurts and pains of 800 youth and adults. At first it was overwhelming, but my youth group and many others at CIY and beyond were praying for me. With the Lord’s help, I wrote down each injury on scrap paper and erased every bit of black marker on those walls. Each hurt was prayed for and brought before the Lord for 10 hours. I learned about grace, and forgiveness and the meaning of love. God taught me to be unselfish and that my problems are not worth complaining about. While these are not new concepts to me, they were embossed into my spirit. Other people are hurting, and God provided healing and hope through prayer.
While, I was not physically refreshed at 8AM for the start of the morning session, it brightened my morning and re-invigorated me when the youth began to file into the auditorium to offer words of appreciation and encouragement.
It was sad to me that I wrote down abandonment, betrayal, rejection, depression, and “problems with parents” enough times to abbreviate the words. My encouragement to the youth, and to those reading this blog is simply John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This is not our home, and when we have tribulation and troubles, we can smile knowing that the longing for our Heavenly home is a safe haven from the sufferings of this world.