Listen, people of Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. … Do what the Lord says is good and right so that things will go well for you. [Deuteronomy 6:4-5,18a (NCV)]
Recently, we provided dinner for a local skateboard church ministry that serves teens and young adults. If church is a hospital for wretched souls, this one is a MASH unit for them! Most of the youth have troubled pasts and few come from faith-based homes or with any knowledge of the Bible. Many, however, have transformed their lives as they have come to know Jesus through this ministry.
During Bible study, I overheard a young man claim he was his own lord and master and had to be obedient to no one. He was his own god; in fact, he added, we are all our own gods. Clearly, the pastor has his work cut out for him. Earlier that evening, the same young man said he couldn’t pray because he didn’t feel God. Of course, he couldn’t. Just as there was no room in Bethlehem for Mary and Joseph, by thinking he’s god, there’s no room in this young man’s heart for Jesus. “How’s that working for you?” I wanted to ask. Since he’s unemployed, homeless, using drugs, and unwelcome in his family’s home, his god doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job.
What will it take for this fellow to finally see the truth? What will it take before he knows he is loved, forgiven and valuable? What will it take for him to cede control to a higher power? What will it take for him to embrace the concept of obedience to God rather than obedience to self? Will he have to be knocked to his knees before he sees what is right in front of him? I pondered Saul of Tarsus, another man with no room in his heart for Jesus. Determined to defeat Christianity, he went from house to house arresting believers and hauling them off to prison. On his way to Damascus, however, he was knocked to the ground, struck blind and confronted by Jesus in one of the most dramatic conversions in history. When Saul was down and blinded, he finally saw the truth; the persecutor became evangelist and Saul the Pharisee became Paul the Apostle, God’s chosen instrument.
The good news is that, somewhere deep inside, this young man knows his way isn’t working. He was at a SK8 church prayer meeting and Bible study. Granted, we were serving a delicious hot meal of ham and potatoes and skateboarding followed Bible study, but he didn’t have to arrive early for prayers or stay after dinner for Bible study. I offered a prayer for him, asking God to make Himself known to this young man. I know God has been knocking at his door (or he wouldn’t have been there that night) but maybe God needs to knock him to the ground as he did for Paul.
Heavenly Father, I offer this prayer for the many young men and women who are deaf to your voice, blind to your presence, and unwilling or afraid to make room in their hearts for you. Please keep knocking, even it if means you have to knock them to their knees. Make your presence known, your love sensed, and your forgiveness felt. Thank you for the pastors, mentors and sponsors who work with young people. Keep filling them with the incredible patience, self-control, wisdom and love they need to bring your lost children home.