My husband, Greg, and I stood at the back of the auditorium, gazing over the sea of heads. Dark hair and light hair was interspersed with some graying hair. Bibles lay open on laps, and most eyes were fixed on the screens showing the speaker.
My eyes traveled over the thousands of heads to the stage. A young man stood there, challenging the attendees of this convention to make a total commitment to Jesus—no turning back. Greg motioned to me—he had found seats, and I followed him to a chair. I looked up at the words imprinted on the backdrop to the stage – GYC – Generation of Youth for Christ, a convention of young adults (and some not so young) who are passionate to share the gospel with others.
This GYC in Baltimore marked our sixth GYC, and they have all inspired us, challenged us, and spurred us to an ever-closer walk with Jesus. However – somehow – this GYC seemed different. As I enjoyed meeting the people and hearing the powerful messages, I kept wondering what made the difference. Maybe it was seeing the tremendous crowd of young people, watching them pour into the main auditorium for meetings, hungry and thirsty for solid, Biblical truth. But no, we’d seen young people on fire for God before.
Maybe it was standing by our 3ABN booth, hearing the testimonies of how God has been working in people’s lives or how He has brought them into God’s end-time church. But come to think of it, we’d heard some wonderful stories before. Maybe it was listening to the Spirit-filled messages from some dynamic men and women of God, people who have experienced God for themselves. But we had heard Spirit-filled messages before. So, what made the difference for me this time? As I reflected, I thought that maybe, the difference was inside of me.
Somehow, during this GYC, I was challenged in a deeper way with a 100 percent commitment to Jesus – to follow Him, “no turning back”, come what may. Beginning with Justin McNeilus’ keynote address, and continuing throughout the weekend, I was brought, face to face, with the decision to follow Jesus. Not a simple decision like the one I had made years ago, and daily recommitted myself to, but a radical decision to follow Him – no matter what – without turning back. A total commitment to not allow anyone or anything to come between Jesus and me. To allow God to change me inside to whatever He had in mind when He created me, to walk with Jesus in a deeper way than I’ve ever experienced before.
It involves total surrender of the heart – without turning back. If I cling to a certain song I like (that is not pleasing to Jesus), I would be turning back. If I hold onto a certain questionable book, that would be turning back. If I cleave to a certain relationship that God would not approve of, that would be turning back. If I harbor bitterness, envy, or pride, that would be turning back. If I place anyone or anything over Jesus, that would be turning back. It requires a radical turnabout, a 100 percent commitment to follow Jesus, without turning back.
Though no one join you, will you still follow? Though the way might be steep and slippery at times, will you still climb? Though others may laugh, will you still obey? It might sound hard, yet we never really walk alone; we never climb alone; we never obey in solitude. Our precious Savior stands beside us, to hold our hand and help us walk. (Isa. 42:6) After all, it is “God who works in me (and you), both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13) God is the One who gives us the desire and the power, so that we can follow Him – and never turn back!