Hope

Teenagers are often held to such low standards. Working with teenagers teaches me a great deal!

I was having lunch with a friend, which I so often do. Walking into this time together, I expected to be the one listening and leading toward Jesus throughout the conversation. What I so often forget is that there are times God is needing to lead me, not have me do the leading for someone else.

During this lunch, I made a hope comment “I hope this works out for you” or something along those lines. The young teen looks me square in the eyes and says “There is only so much we can put our hope in.” The conversation continued, lunch ended, and we went on our way. I had a feeling of incompleteness wrestling within me. Her comment about hope stuck with me all day.

That evening, I was hearing from another teenager. She was expressing the struggle of so many friends putting her down at school, her lack of ability to believe her boyfriend, and a desire to trust her father who was making another promise, after so many promises unkept. That’s when the truth of scripture finally hit me!

“…and surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28:20

Let those words sink in. As we understand it, these are the final words of Christ right before ascending back into heaven. He’s telling his apostles where they need to place their hope. Hope in Christ is foundational, unwavering, and will hold us up! It will never fail us.

So I responded to this teenager that was experiencing so many people letting her down with this: When we place our hope in people, we fall hard. It hurts. Because people will never fully come through for us like Christ will. People, items, places, will always let us down. The incompleteness I was experiencing earlier in the day was the realization God was giving me that I had been putting so much hope in people.

When we put our hope in Christ, we know it will be an unfailing stronghold. There is only so much we can put our hope in.

Feeling Happy and Awesome

It seems that every year, following Youth in Action – Kansas City, the teens, and chaperones have a new fire for Christ, ready to conquer the world!

Following one of these events, I returned home ready to catch up on some sleep.  A few hours upon returning, one of the teens, an eighth grade boy, sent me a text.  It read “When we went to YIA I felt happy and awesome and at home, but not anymore now that I am back home.  It feels like something is missing because I don’t feel good inside or happy that I am home.”

It made me smile that he felt this way, that means the weekend was impactful for him.  At the same time it saddened me, because it shows that there is a brokenness at his home that he was noticing for the first time.

Many would tell him that spiritual high will fade, and that is normal.  I struggle with that advice because we should always be seeking to hold onto that spiritual feeling.  The reason it feels so great is because we have had a time where we have lived our faith to a high level.  We should desire for that to continue even when youth events are over.

Instead, when he called crying, asking for me to pray for him, I advised him to keep finding that feeling.  Put yourself in places, and with people who will continue to encourage the living out of faith.  The problem is we are not afraid to let Christ rule our thoughts and actions when we are surrounded by other Christ-followers, but when we are surrounded by the world, fear takes over and we are often quick to put our faith living on the back burner.

My prayer is that this boy motivates us to continue to live out our faith no matter what limits the world, or the church attempts to place on our faith, and that he finds a passion to have a family free of the brokenness he experiences within the home he is growing up in.