Lisa and I are grieving over the struggle of one of our teenage men. He is living on the precipice between having a meaningful life and social oblivion. He is in jail now having made a rash mistake.
Due to God’s mercy and grace, we’ve seen many people come to the Lord, changed hearts and changed lives, but I always grieve for the ones who turn away. I’ve seen the Holy Spirit work miraculous wonders but the greatest by far is the changing of the human heart. How God can work in spite of my, and the Church’s, human flaws is beyond me.
When I read in the Bible how some turned from Jesus it’s just hard for me to comprehend (John 6.60-70). How can they walk away? How can they choose what the world offers over surrender to Christ? But I have seen it with my own eyes.
But of course, the point is that discipleship costs us something… self-sacrifice is required.
Lisa and I grieve when we watch people that we love self-destruct, or choose destruction over love. Why do they do it? We’ve seen young people’s lives fall off the rail when they were doing so well… why? How?
It took me a long time to get it through my head that the promise of eternal life is not much of an incentive when all you know of life is pain, suffering and emotional misery. Promising that you’ll go to heaven when you die is not enough for many of our young people. They have to feel the hand of God in their lives now. They have to know that God cares enough about them to get personally involved. Somebody’s got to get their hands dirty. Somebody’s got to get in the trenches with them. Somebody’s got to lay down their lives for them.
Because in the end, everyone must choose for him or herself. The message we bring may look good, it may feel good, it may sound good… but is it real? Does it help me in my life right now, in my present circumstances?
When it comes down to it it’s a gamble. And you have to surrender everything for it to pay off. To do this goes against human nature and culture. It’s a leap of faith. I remember when I came to the Lord, fifty years ago, everything about the gospel was made clear to me, but did I really believe it? Did I choose to believe it? And it required a leap… and I’ve never looked back.
For many of us it takes a long time standing at the precipice to decide to take that leap… and some of us walk away. But we have to choose it. We make the choice. We have to want it. We have to somehow believe that there is a Way out. And so many of our people struggle with this. God makes a Way where there is no way. Like Peter we have to realize that there is nowhere else to go to have life. We have to choose life.
The promise of eternal life is the promise of all abiding love, the promise of everlasting friendship, the promise of eternal belonging. We can have, and share, those things right here and now. Our young friend can have these things; but they require sacrifice, they require a leap of faith.
This is what gets the attention of the young people with whom we work: God’s presence in the midst of their struggle. So, we labor and labor but we do not lose hope. Please pray for our young people who live on the precipice of life and death… that they would choose Life, so that despair may be transformed to joy.