But wow, in the end I was blown away. Last night, only hours away from saying goodbye, a group of us sat tightly together in a "rice grain" formation and prayed for over an hour, during which time more people continued to join until there were several rings of us. What I felt during that was something I'd never experienced: I could actually feel the Spirit of God among us as we wept and prayed together, really feel Him. We closed by singing four stanzas of Amazing Grace. It was the most amazing thing ever.
And as we prayed, I thought, This is what heaven must be like. Such deep, caring love for one another, together in a community unlike anything I have ever experienced -- a community of young people united by a passion for stories and a desire to use that passion to further the kingdom.
Even in church I have never felt this close to heaven, and until last night I hadn't realized what a perfect community could even look like. OYAN is not perfect, of course, but it is beautiful and I'm convinced that there is nothing like it in this world.
I've been longing for heaven a lot recently. Last night that longing was rekindled yet again and I was left with a burning desire to use my gift to reach out, to show people the Light, to bring as many people into this incredible, loving community as I could.
And I intend to. I have a new goal with my writing. At the workshop one of the speakers talked about establishing "normal" in your story world before wrecking it. "Normal has been established; time to wreck it" was repeated several times last night, and could serve as a motto for many of us. We do not want to be normal. We know what normal is: it is the ways of the world. We are called to be different. We are called to be salt and light. I've never felt that like I do now. I've never been so excited to have that calling.
The theme of the workshop was "Bigger on the Inside." And while that had multiple meanings, Mr. Schwabauer, the OYAN instructor and the man who started this all, pointed the spotlight on one particular meaning. God is much bigger than we are. And His Spirit lives inside us. As Christians, we are bigger on the inside, and we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
All things. Wow.
I'm a huge apologetics guy. I love it. I love learning how to defend the faith. But none of the arguments that I've ever learned and none of the proofs have ever made me as sure of what I believe as the events of last night did. And I've never been this passionate about it.