Three days ago I returned from the trip of a life time. Myself, and 19 others from my church family spent a week together in New Hampshire to take part in the music festival known as Soulfest. My church has gone 5 times in the past 7 years, and out of those 5, I have gone 4 times. This year was my favourite. The week was filled with many, many, many blessings, but the whole time there was something that lingered in my mind and that was that most of the youth became distracted soooo easily.
The camp site we were at had a zipline. Distraction.
The camp site also had a rope course. Distraction.
One of the beaches had a Pirate's Cove Miniput. Distraction.
The mountain ride and museum had a gift shop. Distraction.
One of the beaches had a water slide. Distraction.
The little lake at Soulfest had kayak and paddle boat rentals. Distraction.
We drove by 2 other rope courses. Distraction.
The concert stages were surrounded with venders in tents. Distraction.
The concert stages were surrounded by fast food venders. Distraction.
This was the first year that the leaders gave the youth almost complete free run of the festival. With the exception of a few concerts, a speaker, and a few events, it was up to the youth as to how they would spend their time. To be honest, I think that most of the youth spent more time with these sources of empty entertainment, or dreaming about these sources of empty entertainment than they did celebrating why we where there. We were there to fellowship with one another, we were there to get to know 13000 other Christians, we were there to listen to famous musicians and marvellous speakers that glorify God. We were there to have our eyes opened to what is happening in other parts of the world, to have our ears exposed to new music, and we were there to see just how real and authentic these musicians really are.
But, somehow, the youth were really challenged this week, and maybe I was too. They were challenged with the temptation to spend their time and money elsewhere, and perhaps I was given the challenge of how to help them. Honestly, it was like taking a child to Disneyland and have them sit and be amused by a seagull the whole time. It was like giving a child a toy for Christmas and then watch the child play with the box the whole time. It was like cooking Christmas dinner and having your guests sit and eat candy instead.
A lot of money and time, and effort went into this week, and I don't just mean by me, I mean thousands of people had a hand in making this festival possible, and all the youth wanted to do was the flashy, pricy, expired entertainment. As I stood listening to one of the most famous Christian Bands known today, I couldn't help but notice that there were not many people by myside. It was heart breaking to realize that most of the youth had no idea why we were there, and perhaps it was even worse knowing that some of them did know why we were there, but chose to ignore it.
Why is this? Why would the youth rather spend 70 dollars on a zip line course that lasts 30 minutes, than spend zero dollars on building relationships that last a life time? We have to be careful, the things of this world can be very flashy, and very appealing, but ultimately they leave us unsatisfied, searching for more, and with less money in our wallets. Empty entertainment is a drug. Don't get me wrong, going to the movies once in a while with friends, is a great thing, but when entertainment consumes you so much that you can't see the beauty and the bigger picture around you, I think it might just be time to re-evaulate what is important in life.
I have a lot of work to do, and friends, we have a lot of praying to do. Because if some of the best (in my opinion) youth of today have a hard time realizing why they are at a festival, it will only be from the grace of God that they will realize why they are put on this earth. I am trying my hardest not to be discouraged, I am trying my hardest to use this experience as motivation to work and pray twice as hard. There is hope. I promise. There is hope. The very last day of the festival, I was able to witness one of our newest youth go through the waters of baptism. The whole week turned around. While the rest of the beach crowd was splashing around, distracting themselves with beach toys, and sand castles, I was so proud of my youth as they stood and watched one of their fellow friends be baptised in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. My friends, don't be discouraged, no matter how flashy and appealing this world becomes, there is hope. There is always hope.