How do you ‘digest’ 4 years of life with a group of young people? How do you tell them that you’re proud of them? That you may not be with them as much, but you’ll never forget them? That their lives will never cease to be completely precious to you? That watching them grow and become men and women of faith has been joyous? That they could never know how much knowing them has impacted my life…
My heart has been broken hearing their stories of absent fathers, addicted mothers, broken brothers, imprisoned friends. I cried when she crossed that line again when she swore she never would. My throat closed in tight knowing he was in over his head and the drugs were affecting his body severely. When he shrugged off his mother’s absence. When their friend was shot in a gang fight. When her father texted her perverse words. The times when she spoke aloud those crippling words she believed. When they broke up and it was killing him, though he bore it silently. When he lied to us, bold-faced.
But I’ve been there too when she prayed out loud for the first time. When a room full of girls confessed their sins and allowed light to shine on the darkness. When the foolishness of ‘bisexuality’ was rejected and God’s standard embraced. When they heard, for the very first time, the Truth. That Wednesday night when he raised his hand and asked for prayer, and I thought he never would. I listened as they asked the deep questions that plagued their infant faith, and I listened as their voices grew stronger in worship. When she hugged me and cried, ‘No one loves me like you do.’ We’ve watched them repent, trust in Jesus Christ, come to the church for baptism. When the demons who haunted her lost their power in Jesus’ name. I’ve seen little girls grow into God-fearing young women, and shy silly boys grow into godly leaders and men.
I love these kids so much.
And I think they love us. And that means a lot to me.
I’ll miss the stanky teenager smell coming from our tiny youth room crammed full with bodies and folding chairs. I’ll miss worshiping with them. I’ll miss everyone tattling on everyone else and we need to pray for so-and-so cause they are smoking pot in so-and-so’s basement and they’re not at youth! I might even miss barking out orders and …it’s so freaking loud in here!!…is anyone even listening?!?!…what the heck you guys!!! I’ll miss playing ridiculous games with them and laughing every week.
I don’t blog a lot about youth because it’s all very personal and private and sacred, really. But it’s been a huge part of the last 4 years of our lives. They have all been a huge part of our lives. Our whole married life and part of our engagement!
I’m glad we’re not really ‘going anywhere,’ and I know it’s time for us to step down from leading the youth group. I’m praying and trusting that the Lord will protect them, keep them growing and draw them closer to Himself. I pray that they will know they are loved and that God has great plans for them.
I love them wicked fierce. And if I could adopt some of them I totally would in a heart beat.
Last night was our last night, and Nels chose this passage from 2 Timothy. I think it is quite fitting:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
You guys my prayer for you is that you will finish your race. You’ve started it, and God will complete His work in you. I pray that you will grow in a love for Jesus and for His word (and you grow in love for his word by reading it!). Nels and I know so many of you have a really difficult home life, but know that God is always with you and that you are growing up and our dream for you is that one day you will have a happy, whole, God-fearing family of your own – and that your parents will see God’s light in your life and will be saved too. Don’t fear your friends or anyone else – fear only God and serve him with your whole heart! Don’t be ashamed of the gospel. It’s the power of God for salvation. Love each other. Build each other up. Pray for each other and give hugs at school. 😉
Also, no dating till you’re 30. (never mind that i’m 23!)
…entrusting them to the God and Father of us all…
P.S.: If I don’t get graduation and wedding invitations I will .never. forgive y’all!! ;-P