As a young pastor I fancied myself as a pastor for the youth group. Whenever there was an activity I was driving a carload of kids to attend. We went to snow camp. We went to youth rallies. Sometimes our weekly meeting required some transportation by me.
I found my joy in being accepted by high schoolers as not only the leader, but part of the group. It's my opinion that kids take me more seriously if they see that I like to play and have a more balanced personality than they may have originally thought.
In my first church I couldn't seem to get the group started on the right foot until one of the girls in the church determined that she was going to make it work. She had a strong character and a commanding manor. I think she may have threatened some of her school friends, I don't really know this, but she showed me how important it was for the young people themselves to take ownership of the project.
Anyway, Bonnie's brow-beating invitations brought together 20 or more kids to the first meeting at her house. A couple of the boys took turns leading the Bible study portion of our meetings. Then we had refreshments and played some special games and just hung out (before that term was actually invented). What was so remarkable was that this meeting took place on Friday nights, competing with the local basketball games. And the kids kept coming back. Only when I thought there was needed supplementation or that we were straying from the meat of the text did I offer my comments. The Lord was with us. These kids even talked about spiritual matters during the "hanging out" part of the meeting.
One of the neighbor kids who had visited the group came knocking on my door one night, asking me to tell her what made them tick. She said she could see these kids had something she did not have, and she wanted to know what it was. Talk about a straight line! We talked about Jesus as I explained the gospel and she asked Christ to come into her life.
One year, coming home from a winter camp, my Rambler American stuffed with kids, we were delayed by freezing rain and snow. This wasn't the fluffy stuff that blows and drifts like baby powder before a fan. This was crunchy stuff that hit and stuck and froze up my windshield wipers more than once during our treacherous journey. I stopped and relieved the wiper blades of ice formations more than once. Here I was leaning over this slushy car, whacking the nascent glaciers off as the traffic squished by, throwing dirty slushy snow at my feet.
All I could think about is how the parents of these young people must be worried about them, and how I could get them home sooner. Oh yeah, this was long before the day when everyone owned a cell phone. In fact they had not yet been invented.
The final stop before heading home was to drop off the daughter of an important business man in Westfield, NJ. My home was still 40 miles south and it was dinner time and I wanted to get home. It seems that this family was holding a formal dinner with friends, and they invited me to stay and eat with them. I squirmed at the invitation because although I was hungry, I could hardly be more inappropriately dressed with my dirty, wet blue jeans and sweat shirt. The girl's father was so genuine and disarming that I did stay and sit amid these suits and ties and gowns. He said he could always trust me to take good care of the kids, and that he really wanted me to dine with them.
We don't deserve to sit with Jesus at the marriage supper of the Lamb either. It is only at His gracious invitation that we dare to come. But when Jesus calls you just can't say "No". In that case He actually takes away our filthy garments and clothes us with spotless clothing, reflective of the holiness that He drapes over every believer who heeds His call.