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Saturday, April 16, 2005

My youth group saga continues.

Last week was good; this week was nicht so gut (German: "not so good"). In fact, I was totally beaten down at youth group last night. It must really suck to be a high school girl, because they seem to have a lot of angst. Praise God, I didn't take it personally, though, when they physically turned away from me because I asked them to discontinue an unproductive discussion. I got the 'silent treatment' for the rest of the meeting time, so I took the opportunity (a rare one, I assure you!) to reiterate to them what I think is THE most important thing they can take out of the year that I've spent with them, which is God's love.

As God has ordained it, this is also an area that I've grown in a lot lately. I once listened to a conference tape where the speaker had been in college ministry, and her catch phrase for whenever the girls asked 'Why?' was, "Because God loves you!"

"Why did God let my parents divorce?" Because he loves you!
"Why didn't I get into the school I wanted?" Because God loves you!
"Why am I sick, or why do my friends and family die?" Because God loves you!

This is a truth that we must cling to tenaciously. We hold it alongside the truth that God is sovereignly ordering everything in our lives. But we can find comfort (rather than fear or anger) in God's sovereignty because of the fact of his love.

I can't tell my high school girls why their lives are so hard. I can't tell them why they feel like God is so distant from them right now. I surely won't promise them that they will start "feeling" God's presence with them again.

So, I turned the hostile silence into a chance to tell them that - no matter where they turn, what they say to God or what happens to them - their loving heavenly Father is pursuing them, and holding out to them the best he has to offer. Now, I'm not discounting the need for repentance and a walk of faith. But for where these girls are right now, what they need to hear most of all is a theme that reverberates throughout the Bible. It is the story of a God who loves his wayward people, who pursues them in their sin, who redeems them from the consequences of their rebellion, who tenderly cherishes ugly and broken people, who chooses us simply on the basis of his love and nothing in us, who ultimately sends his Son to die for his enemies, and this exalted Son gives us every spiritual blessing, all that we need, and the riches that he himself has merited through his work.

Yeah, it turns out that I'm not so different than my high school girls after all. Granted, I don't typically express such open hostility, but it's there inside me (trust me!). And this grand theme of God's love - which is our hope and salvation - is the same message that I need to hear and believe every day.

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
2 Corinthians 4:6-10

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