“No,” I said apologetically, “I wasn’t at Woodstock.”
My girls seemed disappointed that I didn’t take part in the iconic festival of my day. And I felt a tinge of regret, too, because it seemed I missed out on a major identification point with my generation.
But God did one better. He sent me to a festival of eternal proportions.
Exactly 40 years ago today, as 80,000 candlelights flickered across the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, the Lord filled my heart with His light. “It only takes a spark….”
What an awesome week!! Just six days after my high school graduation, the Lord set favourable boundaries around my future, by sealing my will in His. And that one day made all the difference in the next forty years, and eternity, for me.
The days before that amazing night were filled with seminars, street evangelism, and some exceedingly convicting teaching on sex and purity by Josh McDowell. And then there was the music–Johnny Cash, Larry Norman, Love Song, Andre Crouch and the Disciples, Randy Matthews, Children of the Day, and many others! The evenings were filled with a call to follow Jesus. On June 15th, candles were distributed to a Bowl full of young people, while Dr. Billy Graham spoke:
“I am asking you to light a candle…and we will start a spiritual fire here tonight that could sweep the world.”
The entire stadium glowed with candlelight. We can’t really know, and only eternity will be able to reveal how much the world may have been affected by that evening. But I know this…I changed. It was the culmination of a mother’s prayers and the beginning of a new life in Christ.
As much as that one day changed the course of my life, it cannot be isolated from everything that took place prior to that time. My earliest memories are of my mom reading the Bible to me every night before bedtime. She also made me watch every single Billy Graham Crusade, go to church, Sunday School, and behind the scenes, prayed for me daily!
And, as anyone knows who has read about Moses’ forty years in the wilderness, Israel’s forty years of wandering in the desert, or David’s forty year reign, there was much more that needed to be worked out in my life after my initial surrender to the Lord–much more!
For the first several months following that momentous day, I probably sinned more than I did in the 17 years prior!! What a wreck, as I grappled to hold onto my will, my desires, and the future I thought I wanted for myself! A rigorous tug-of-war raged in my mind and almost took away all God had in store for me.
But, God’s grace is greater. He had new mercies waiting for me every morning. He guided me through decisions, 36 years of marriage, raising children, homeschooling, serving 20 years in the military, and too many other things to recount here. He has been, is, and always will be, FAITHFUL. That is my favourite characteristic of God! I can truly sing with the heavenly host, Great is Thy Faithfulness!!
That day and the thousands since, constantly reveal His love to me, over and over and over again, through the Cross of Jesus, the Word of God, and the gentle wooing of His Holy Spirit. There is no other place I would rather be than in Him.
I feel blessed and privileged to have been part of something much deeper and greater than Woodstock. Explo 72 was a place in time where God stepped in and turned a remnant of young people to Him; He ignited a generation to serve Him around the world, and stirred up wave upon wave of new music and praise to glorify His name among the Nations!
I used to tell my daughters that sometimes a very simple decision could potentially be a life-changer. Reaching out to the “new kid” at school, deciding NOT to go a party, or choosing TO go somewhere else..taking the road a little less travelled.
My life changed in 1972 when I decided to join our youth group on their journey to Dallas, Texas.
Yeah, Woodstock made quite an impact on my generation.
But Explo 72 changed us for eternity.
Life Magazine wrote about it.
And there was even a little book about it.
It would take a book and a village to write about my forty year journey with the Lord. Suffice it to say,
“Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:7-11, 14
Here’s a few YouTube videos created from The Jesus Explosion record album (yes, the vinyl product) recorded Live at Explo 72.
Randy Matthews: Didn’t He
Larry Norman: Sweet, Sweet Song of Salvation
Johnny Cash: I See Men as Trees Walkin
What decision is God asking of you today that might make the difference of a lifetime for you–or someone else?