perfect Minnesotan utopia

One night in the Rocky Mountains on a July summer night as I witnessed thousands gathering with arms raised, hearts filled with the Holy Spirit, and mouths singing, “There is no other name but Jesus,” I was brought me to tears.

Every two years I loved boarding a charter bus with my youth group from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Estes Park, Colorado for a youth convention. This time I had just graduated from high school and it was going to be the last time I could go as a student. It was bittersweet, but I knew it was going to be special one last time.

About a month before I went to Estes Park, I had gone on a mission trip with the seniors from my youth group to Tucson, Arizona. I got to share Jesus with a stranger for the first time on the streets of downtown Tucson. It made me think how important my faith is to me, the price Jesus paid for me. When I shared what Jesus meant to me to a stranger, it showed me how important it is for another person to hear it. The gospel isn’t a selfish message; it is a message to be shared with all people to the ends of the earth.

God wasn’t finished working in me that summer, and was ready to do something so powerful to bring me to tears in the thin, Rocky Mountain air.

This trip was also the last for my youth pastor, Ryan Chase. He was more than a pastor to me, and my youth group. Like, my daddy, God, he cared and invested spiritually his whole life into us. He cared our spiritual growth and took real personal interest in us. He wanted our relationships with Jesus and others to be always growing.

I look back at one evening that struck me and will forever remember and cherish for the rest of my life.

That night that God forever changed me was a Thursday night at the Longhouse, the main gathering hall for over a thousand middle and high school students to sing praises to the God of the earth and be gripped by the gospel.

On that Thursday night, we had just finished a compelling, moving night of worship and message. Afterwards, all of the youth groups from different churches in the United States moved to meet in separate places.

It was there my youth pastor led us in worship one last time. I am not sure that there wasn’t a dry eye in the building after that night ended. My youth pastor had shared the importance that he didn’t want to leave without anyone knowing what our Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ did for us on that tree. It was a time where he called us to surrender everything, all of our hearts to the God who sent his perfect Son to die for you and me.

Hearts got heavy, hands were raised as my youth pastor strung his guitar, and the Holy Spirit was moving. God’s presence was felt. I just knew God wasn’t going to leave that building without touching at least one soul.

I left that building with tears running down my face, touched by the holiness of God. It doesn’t happen much.

God became real in that moment. It was truly a mountaintop experience and was one those times I felt moved by God. I just didn’t know what he was trying to tell me.  God was rocking my world, turning it upside down, and all I could do was pray and trust him he was working, changing me into the person he wanted me to be. God had wiped my slate clean, and gave me a second chance.

That night as I walked back to my dorm, sitting on the edge of a dirt road looking up into the thin Colorado night sky, I cried tears to Jesus. They were tears of joy and tears of help.

I got back to my bed in my dorm and just laid there with my head face down in my pillow. Tears kept coming. God had worked in a powerful way that he only created.

It was one of the sweetest, most real times of my life. I felt a calming feeling that God was with me. I didn’t want to come down from that mountaintop. Ever.



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