It’s been a few days since the weekend but the faces of the girls and some of their stories and questions will be permanently attached to my heart. Over these last few days, I have found myself thinking back and still processing the moments I had with them.
One girl had tears streaming down her cheeks as she told me that her dad had recently died very unexpectedly and not only that but just last week her mother had been admitted to the hospital. My heart instantly broke for this precious girl as I wrapped my arms around her and just held her for a moment. I could only imagine the sadness, the worry, and the fear that must be enveloping her heart. We talked and prayed together and then went our separate ways, but I have found myself thinking of her and asking God to give her the peace, comfort, and strength that only He can give.
Another girl shared that she had just lost her grandmother who was like a mom to her. Yet another young heart hurting and so in need of a touch from God.
Then, there were two girls that came up to me and had questions. Brave questions. Questions like— what do I do when my friends want me to do something that I am not comfortable doing? How do I say no? How do I draw the line? These were all things that God had led me to speak on in our session, and it was exciting to see that they had truly listened and wanted to know more.
All throughout the evening beautiful teenage girls were asking questions and sharing stories. And as I looked into their eyes and listened to their hearts, it was like time stood still because nothing mattered more than what they were sharing and everything within me wanted to encourage their hearts and cheer them on.
One thing that really became clear to me was that young people are searching and hungry for answers and we as adults can help them. We don’t have to be the coolest, trendiest thing out there to connect and make a difference with teens today. In fact, at 43, I’m probably considered “over-the-hill” by many of them. But when we share from our hearts and boldly use God’s Word to show His principles, young people will listen.
As I thought about my time with them, I came to these conclusions :
- Young people need to know we truly care. I believe the way to hear their stories is to share our own. When they know that our lives haven’t been perfect and we know what it is like to go through hard times then they will feel comfortable opening up their hearts and sharing their pain which allows us the opportunity to point them to Jesus.
- Young people want to know the truth. I think sometimes as adults we can dance around the truth and even become real vague on the issues facing kids today. Perhaps we do that out of fear of turning them away. Perhaps we do that because we have allowed ourselves to be passive and vague in our own lives. But what I experienced with the girls last weekend is that young people are drawn to courage and will respect us when we speak the truth in a loving way.
- Young people will take a stand if we will lead the way. A few of the girls asked questions about movies, music, dating standards, alcohol and the pressures in general that they face on a daily basis. They knew my convictions on these things because I expressed them very clearly and candidly throughout the session but what was exciting was that their willingness to ask more questions truly showed their desire to live for Jesus. I again explained to them that when we know Jesus He lives within us, so He hears everything we say and He is with us in EVERYTHING we do. This truth alone can really help us as Believers in knowing where to draw the line. For example, if I am in a movie and I would be embarrassed if Jesus were sitting beside me, then I should probably not be watching that movie and should walk out. Because the truth is—when I have a relationship with Jesus HE IS ALWAYS WITH ME! So, when we start applying that principle to all of these different areas, the gray areas slip away and the answers become very clear.
- Young people can make a difference now. If we are honest, every single one of us wants to matter, and kids especially feel this way. Helping them develop their relationship with God and helping them understand that God has a very special plan for them now can be the very thing that plugs them into the dreams and purposes for which they were created. When they realize that they have opportunities to make a difference in the lives of their friends and other kids at school and when they choose to seize their opportunities to make an impact, they will begin to see God using them in ways they never dreamed possible. They will also begin to experience the confidence and fulfillment that comes with walking in the center of God’s plan for our lives.
As for me, perhaps the biggest take away from the weekend was that there is no point challenging these kids to live for Jesus in every area of their lives if I am not willing to do the same. I must choose EVERY day to surrender EVERY area to Him.
I shared with a few of the girls how years ago when traveling home from concerts, I would occasionally stumble across a People magazine that someone had left behind on the airplane. As I would pick the magazine up and read it to help pass the time on the flight, it didn’t take long for God to convict me because I knew reading about all the Hollywood stars that were divorcing, having affairs, and getting drunk at parties couldn’t possibly go along with Scripture, for it certainly didn’t align with Philippians 4:8:
Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Now let me just say that I assured the girls that reading a People magazine is not the worst thing ever, but here’s what God taught me—if I’m not willing to take a stand with the small things, how will I ever stand for the big things that really do matter? How will I say no when I am pressured to do wrong? How will I courageously turn away from the temptations that surround me?
Ultimately, it comes down to choices every day. It’s really that simple. And my heart rejoices that there was a gymnasium full of girls this past weekend with open hearts that said “Yes, I will CHOOSE JESUS each day!”
And with these girl’s commitment fresh in my heart and mind, I ask you and I ask myself the same question:
Will You Choose Jesus Today?