“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19)
Last week 13 of our highschoolers and three leaders braved the Tennessee heat for an absolutely life-transforming week at CHIC. It was unreal. At each and every morning keynote talk, focus seminar or evening mainstage, the speakers were remarkable. The bands were full of energy and talent and a message of a good God that doesn’t need cheesy art but desires creativity from the depths of our hearts.
We learned that the right to clean water is not just a “social” issue; it’s a Kingdom issue that God’s people need to be integrally involved in and passionate about. Two of our students, Nathan Aguirre and Joe Helton, came in second and third in the Project Blue 5K for Clean Water in which 450 students ran, some of them carrying 40lb jerry cans of water the whole way.
We learned about the issues of identity and race and gender and how if we are to fully commit to loving the children of God we need to place ourselves in the midst of uncomfortable situations and conversations to better understand each other. We heard a reverberating message for six days that God is for us, not ever ever against us. It was powerful and necessary and liberating.
We walked nearly 11 miles a day, we ate together, sang together, laughed together, rafted down Class 4 rapids together. We came up with inside jokes and hashtags. We praised God at the top of our lungs with our hands lifted high and prayed that the Spirit would lead us where our trust is without borders.
This isn’t a description so you don’t have to ask the students about CHIC, it’s a launching point for better questions than “How was CHIC?”. That’s not a question that can be answered easily and yet we often let our students, and even our church, have great big encounters with the one Almighty God of the Universe and we ask nothing more than how it was and expect nothing more than “fine.”
The last night of CHIC our mainstage speaker was Louie Giglio. He told stories about eyeballs on airplanes and a page from his Bible being in outerspace, both of which I highly encourage you to ask the students about, and then he posed this question: “What will it take to make this experience stick?” He reminded students about the mountaintop experiences and how everything is great for a while until things get hard and all of a sudden it doesn’t even feel like God did anything. His answer was simple and also huge.
To make this experience stick with us through a lifetime we are going to have to have a living and breathing relationship with the Holy Scriptures. He challenged more than 5,000 highschoolers and nearly 2,000 leaders to change the way they read from a chore to an honor. He talked about how God is still alive and speaking in those pages and if we are to hear from God we will most likely find him where his breath resides.
I would like to voice the fact that that challenge was not just made to your students but to you. If you want this God-encounter to continue shaping their lives you need to be in the word with them. In Deuteronomy God says that in order for Israel not to forget all that He had brought them through in Egypt, the desert and finally into the glorious Promised Land, that they would need to talk about it all the time. They were going to have to read it to their children, talk about it around their tables and bind it to their hearts so that they would remember where they’ve been and not be tempted to fall into old ways again.
We all know how the story went for Israel. Let’s change how the story goes for Creekside. Let’s ask better questions. Let’s participate in the 40-day CHIC devotional. Go and watch the YouTube videos of the mainstage evenings. Listen to the music. Read the Holy Scriptures with your family and our family together. In other words (that will make the CHIC students laugh): Do better.
Ali can be reached via email here.