"The big Dream"

Jeff Chesemore

It’s 9:15 a.m. on January 12, 1970, at the Asilomar Conference Center in Monterey, California. Young Life’s founder, Jim Rayburn, stands up to speak to the staff. Fighting inoperable cancer, the former president knows this will be his last time addressing these dear friends.

What does someone say in a moment like this? What message burns in the heart?

For Jim, it’s “The Big Dream.”

“I’ve always felt a little twinge or something when I was introduced as the founder of this outfit. I am the founder, don’t get me wrong! But the reason for my embarrassment is that I always felt like a fella who founded something should at least know he was founding something. I didn’t have the slightest idea I was founding something …

I knew one thing, though — I knew that Jesus Christ was important. And I knew that anyone that didn’t have a chance to know Him deserved a chance — and that’s what Young Life is all about — and don’t you forget it! ... The Big Dream: that everyone has a right to know Jesus Christ, to know the facts concerning Him …

They have a right to know who He is; they have a right to know what He’s done for them. They have a right to know how they relate to that. They have a right to know Him personally. Furthermore, they have a right to make their own choice of Him ... That’s not just what Young Life’s all about; that’s all that Young Life’s all about — Jesus Christ …”

We’ve named this space “The Last Word.” Only fitting then that some of our founder’s last words are still first in our hearts. The belief that “Young Life is all about Jesus” flows out of a man who embodied this sentiment. As flawed as you and me, Jim Rayburn nevertheless embraced the abundant life Jesus offers each of us. It was this “life to the full” he loved to share with kids.

Abundant is not synonymous with happiness, although there is great joy in following the Savior. Life to the full means exactly that — a life fully lived. One running the gamut of emotions (not only laughter, but tears), and experiences (not only mountaintops, but valleys). It’s a life lived in community with the Father, Son and Spirit, and the “fellow followers” the Lord provides us in the here and now.

So, lastly, three questions:

  1. What would you like your last words to be?
  2. Would you characterize your life as “abundant”?
  3. Is Jesus all​ your life is about?