“My faith has exploded since I’ve been here!” Well, you can’t just make a comment like that and not explain. So we left Ridgecrest Conference Center with Zack and spent the next 3 hours listening to what God was doing in the life of a 19 year old.
Zack is Paul’s cousin’s son. Born and raised in Florida, we don’t see him often; if we see him once a year, we’re lucky. But when I found out he was going to be here in NC just 2 hours away for the summer as a camp counselor for FUGE at Ridgecrest, I couldn’t not make an offer to go see him. When I texted him, he said he really had no spare time since he would be working with every incoming group of campers, so I just told him if he needed anything, let me know, we were closer than Florida. Then a few weeks later he texted that he would have the evening free of July 1 before more campers would cycle into Ridgecrest.
Plans were made. Paul couldn’t get out of work, so the girls and I drove up the mountain. Grace and Lauren remembered who Zack was. Mostly Lauren remembers that Zack’s mom has pretty, curly hair. But Oh Emily really wouldn’t have been able to pick Zack out of a crowd if I hadn’t told her that he always wears a fedora. Always. It’s his thing. Never seen him without a fedora.
It was Zack’s choice for dinner since he has been eating cafeteria food for weeks now. There’s a great pizza place in Black Mountain if you’re ever in town. We sat on the patio with a little babbling brook a few feet away. Emily had to go see the fish and play on my phone. At first I thought the grown-up conversation must have been boring to Emily, and that maybe she wasn’t really connecting to Zack. Then she handed me my phone and showed me a pic she made of Zack from one of her apps. Fedora! She nailed it.
Zack told us about the incredible ways he is sharing the Gospel with people from all over the country. He is watching strangers become deep friends in a way only God can orchestrate. His heart is being challenged to let go of bitterness over relationships that have ended. He is learning to be deliberate and authentic and intentional in everything that comes out of his mouth. God has seduced Zack into a deeper place of fellowship with Himself that is so intoxicating, Zack knows he can’t ever fake his way through faith ever again.
And Zack focused in on each of my girls. Asking about Grace’s blue hair, because ya know, people notice that kind of thing. And he wanted to see some of her artwork and hear about how God has grown her into an artist. And he learned that Lauren favorite place to be is on 3rd base, but she was injured this last season and wasn’t able to play much. And Emily is a baller, too, but what she wanted Zack to know was that she has epilepsy. She wanted me to tell him, but he said he wanted to hear her secret right from her mouth. She wrote down that she has seizures and was going to show it to him. I guess he was expecting it to be an exciting, fun secret. When he saw that she wrote about seizures, his face fell and went white and he leaned down right to her level so he could ask her about it. I think that’s what Emily will remember most about Zack. He was intentional.
We walked down the street to get ice cream and talked some more. Zack gave us the $10 tour of Ridgecrest for free and we were able to sneak into the back of the worship service. We had church right there for a few minutes. Then it was time to drive home.
Zack wants to come back to Ridgecrest again next year, but he is willing to go wherever God wants him to be. I think that’s going to be the theme of Zack’s life. If he said it once, he said it a dozen times…”I’m living by the Spirit.” I can’t wait to see where the Spirit leads Zack next.
And as he walked away, Emily leaned forward and whispered in my ear “can’t we just bring him home with us?” Oh Emily, God has other places for Zack.