Sunday, September 4, 2011

Where have they gone?

Today's message was led by our youth.  Got me thinking.  A comment made stated that those born in the late 80's to late 90's desire to be a part of something big.  I've taught some of these kids.  I've shared the gospel, taught about the way we should live, spoken to them about planting seeds, shared bible stories, shared stories of martyrs, and so much more.  Yet, right in the middle of today's message, I asked myself "where are they now?"  This led to the following...

Where are they? Did we do enough, did I? How many young people sat through chapel, youth, main service, heard the truth about Jesus, even committed their life to Christ, only to walk away?  I look back and think about all the young adults who have walked through my life.  I think about some of the messages I taught to so many of them.  I remember what some of them said they wanted to do.  I had really great talks with so many, but my heart breaks as I consider where they are today.  I don't mean they've all turned to a life of crime, just that they have chosen to "put God on hold."  And, I have to ask, is it because I shared too much of my past or not enough? Did I not share enough about consequences to my actions? Did I not love unconditionally, or at least show that I did? Was I too hypocritical? Too judgemental? Not consistent enough? Too demanding? Did I give them too much freedom? Not enough? Did I pour Jesus into them enough?  Did I love God enough for them to see?  Was I too critical? Insensitive? Was it that I just didn't give them a chance? Doubted their abilities? Did I not encourage enough?  It is one thing for us to sit back and say "we did our best" "Don't be so hard on yourself" or worse, act like it's "normal" for kids to go through this.  I've even heard people say "All children will rebel" and "kids are going to experiment," as if that makes it OK.  I say we are missing something critical, beyond blame, beyond the truth of fallen man & consequences.  Sure, these things are a factor, so does that mean we just leave it there?  Aren't we supposed to be people of change? Shouldn't we do what we can to overcome our past? Aren't we responsible to raise up the next generation to love God?

Now I find myself wondering what do we do, how are we supposed to respond?  How do we instill a passion for truth in Christ so that everyone will refuse to "put God on hold?"  Maybe it starts with saying I'm sorry, again.  Maybe it starts with deciding to stop placing blame on things, because the truth is, God is bigger then my past, my children's past and our future.  So, I will start here - I'm sorry for not listening when I should have and for lecturing when I shouldn't.  I'm sorry for judging you by what you wear or listen to or by your hair color or body piercings.  I'm sorry for doubting your abilities.  I 'm sorry for being critical and not saying I believe in you.  I'm sorry for the times I jumped to conclusions or accused instead of asking. I'm sorry for sounding as if I have it all figured out, because I don't.  I'm sorry I wasn't consistent in areas I should have been.  I'm sorry for not speaking words of encouragement more often. I'm sorry I wasn't a better example of who Jesus is and I pray you will see Him for who He really is.  I really don't know exactly where to go from here, but I do want you to know I've always cared.  I know I didn't always respond the way I should have and I know my facial expressions often said the opposite of what I spoke.  I truly am sorry.

I write this not just to the children I gave birth to, but to every one of you who came into my life, whether through birth, chapel, Brigades, school, Sunday School, living in my home, hanging out with my kids or in my house, or simply to those I met briefly in hallways. I wish I could say the words to make you believe I care.  I wish I could help you see that just because "man" has failed you doesn't mean that's all there is.  I know life can be hard, just don't give up.

To all of us, I would ask this, where do we go from here? What needs to change?  We can't keep responding with "that's just the way it is" and we can't keep placing blame.

so what do we do?

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