"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Incomprehensible - Passion 2012

I need to take a week just to explain the scope of Passion,

Even before I can get into the heart-changing effects.

It's just amazing, being in a room with forty-two thousand other people.

We would go in,

Sit there,

And wait for the session to start.

The floor would already be full.

The lower seating area would be almost filled.

The "club deck" and the top level would fill up - quickly.

One minute you'd be wondering how many people were actually going to show up,

Two minutes later, there wouldn't be a single seat available.

Packed out.


Every day.

I guess I expected this.

After all, I knew it sold out.

Still, to see forty-two thousand people -

It's just amazing.

Even cooler was the fact that I couldn't take a picture of all of them.

I kept trying, of course,

But there was simply no way to fit two-thirds of a football stadium into one picture.

Two-thirds of a football stadium

Absolutely filled with people.

It just blew my mind.

The even cooler thing -

No one came to see a football game

Or watch a movie

Or hear a concert

Or hear a good speaker

(Although there were awesome concerts and incredible speakers),

Forty-two thousand people

Came together in one place

For Jesus.

The camera didn't pick up the white words.  It says, "The Jesus generation united for His renown."

Even cooler?

It wasn't forty-two thousand Baptists

Or forty-two thousand Catholics

Or forty-two thousand non-denominationals,

It was just forty-two thousand Christians.

Background didn't matter,

The tiny arguments we're always quibbling over didn't matter,

There were people from every denomination imaginable

Gathered in one place

To worship Jesus.

It was so cool!

And about that worshiping part - 

Have you ever worshiped God with forty-two thousand other people?

(Unless you were at Passion, I'm assuming the answer's no.)

I have to tell you, it is amazing!

I know it sounds awesome,

But to experience it is just incredible!

It's so loud, too!

Forty-two thousand people singing the same song

At the top of their lungs,

Praising their Savior!

I wore earplugs most of the time to protect my hearing,

But I did take them out once or twice

And that really made me appreciate the scope of it all.

Forty-two thousand!

It was so loud!

I wonder what it sounded like outside the Dome,

How far away our songs could be heard,

Whether any of the people in Atlanta could understand the words,

Whether they knew who we were singing to.

I know they couldn't see -

And I wish they could! -

On top of the sheer number of people,

The experience of singing with them,

Imagine nearly a hundred thousand hands

In the air,

Lifted high,

Praising God.





Okay, I guess that's enough about worship.

But there's so much more to talk about!

Passion provided two meals for us while we were there.

Imagine feeding forty-two thousand people.

Huge undertaking.

The people organizing it were awesome, though.

They called out section numbers,

Instructed each section to go to a specific gate,

Filed all of us out of the Dome and into the Georgia World Conference Center.

Of course, we were all wondering what we were going to eat.

(I don't think anyone got my "a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread" joke.)

They had four or five huge tables set up

With boxed lunches stacked up all over them

And we just walked by and grabbed one box each.

They were nice lunches, too -

Turkey sandwiches (with cheese, lettuce, and tomato),


A pickle,

A cookie,

A mint,

A bottle of water.

We were so grateful for the food

And very sorry for all of the peole

Who must have worked so, so hard

Putting forty-two thousand boxed lunches together . . .

Two days in a row.

(I was going to take a picture and call it "Feeding the Forty-Two Thousand", but I kept forgetting.  Sorry there's no photo.  Just imagine thousands of people - probably at least five thousand - sitting on the ground in circles in a big, empty basement-like room.  It was pretty incredible just eating with everyone else.)

In addition to the craziness of feeding all of us,

There was the craziness of all of us finding somewhere to purchase the remainder of our meals.

I mean, there were forty-two thousand extra people in Atlanta,

All needing to buy the same meals

At approximately the same times

Withing walking distance of the Georgia Dome.

Needless to say, the lines were very long.

The CNN building's cafeteria was so full

That there was a huge line outside

Of people who couldn't get in

Because the cafeteria was beyond capacity.

Think about that for a second.

How often are rooms beyond capacity?

(I have to just take a moment to remember and say, "Wow.")

So, it was mass chaos,

But it was still so cool

To see all these people


Walking in huge groups,

Basically dictating the flow of traffic (from trying to cross the streets in massive clumps),

Young adults all over the place,

And they were all there for one reason:


No, I'm still not done yet,

Nor will I be for at least three more weeks.

Now that I've talked about the big,

I want to talk about the small.

Part of Passion was "Community Groups".

They separated us by the colors of our wristbands,

Put us all in different rooms in the Conference Center.

Each room had at least a thousand people in it,

Probably more.

At the beginning we all sat there thinking,

"They call this a small group?"

It didn't stay that big for long, though.

They told us all to partner up with one person born in the same month as us,

Then for each group of two to merge with another group of two,

Then for each group of four to merge with another group of four

(This time with the goal of eventually having four guys and four girls).

Then we were told to sit down in circles.

"This is your new family," our group leader said.

And we met together each morning and each evening,

Discussed passages of Scripture and speakers' talks,

Shared opinions, thoughts, hidden scars,

The ways that God was working in our hearts.

By the end, we really were a family.

It was so strange to think that we'd probably never see each other again.

We took pictures,

Talked of how we'd keep in touch.

At a conference of forty-two thousand people,

I became part of a group of eight.

It just blows my mind!

(Not as much as God blows my mind, but, still . . . )

It's so incomprehensible

That forty-two thousand people

From fifty states

And thirty countries

All met

In one place

For the glory

And renown

Of Jesus Christ.

It feels so lonely sometimes,

Especially in this generation,

Especially on a college campus,

Seeing everything else that's going on,

Hearing the rejection of absolute truth,

The rejection of one true faith,

One true Savior,

One true God.

Are there really that many,

Are there really, truly that many

Who still call Him Lord?

The answer is YES.

Forty-two thousand 18-25 year olds still call Him Lord.

More, even!

The conference sold out.

More than forty-two thousand watched the live online streaming.

We are not alone.

If you are an 18-25 year old and couldn't come to Passion this year, I would really, really encourage you to find some way to go next year.  God moves in amazing ways at this conference!  (More to come on that next week.)

To read more about my experience at Passion, check out these posts:
     At the Dome - Passion 2012
     Incomprehensible - Passion 2012
     I Went Expecting - Passion 2012
     Do Something Now - Passion 2012
     After the Dome - Passion 2012

Linking up with Walk With Him Wednesday today.

Please check out some of the other amazing blog posts, the links to which can be found at the bottom of this post.

Happy Wednesday!


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