When we got back in town Friday afternoon, it was to discover that tragedy had occurred while we were in our little bubble. The horror of the Colorado shootings clashed with the glow of returning from camp.
If you ever went to church camp as a teen or have been around students at your church when they return, you know the glow I'm talking about. Like Moses after he conversed with God, these teens radiate the effects of their encounter with Christ. They have learned new truths, discovered new convictions, and faced fears and issues that the busyness of the real world has let them ignore for far too long.
When you hear the stories of the shooter and everything that happened in that theater, it's so easy to wonder what has happened to the world. If we're not careful, we can fall into the trap of thinking that the future is bleak and God is not in it.
What else are we to think when nowhere is sacred, nothing is guaranteed safe? Schools, movies, political speeches, all of them sources of horrific violence by young people. It's easy to look at the younger generation and be scared.
But we shouldn't be.
I spent the week with about sixty teenagers.
Sixty teenagers that spent their week building Habitat for Humanity homes, painting fingernails at nursing homes, cleaning houses of the elderly, and eating lunch with the homeless.
Sixty teenagers that gave up cell phones, mirrors, and air conditioning for a chance to get closer to Jesus.
Sixty teenagers that climbed the mountain, bowed before God and their fellow students, and vowed to be different, to be Daniels in this world.
I watched teenage girls kneel and wash each other's feet in forgiveness.
I saw tears as a young man stood before his peers and apologized for his "stupid teenage actions" and vowed to be a man.
I witnessed young people encouraging and building one another up when they hardly knew each other, instead of tearing each other down and trying to impress everyone with the best insult or cutting remark.
I've worked with teenagers for ten years. I am aware that many of these students will fall back in to a few of their old habits. The convictions of camp may not hold up to the pressure of school when it starts back in a few weeks. But some of it will. Pieces of it will hold fast and some will stand a little taller, speak a little louder, and change their little corner of the world.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking our future is doomed, that God is forgotten by the younger generation.
I have seen the face of the future and it is glorious.