I have been involved in Youth ministry since 2006 (currently, I’m back as a Sponsor sitting under the volunteers in support of their ministries, but that’s a different story). Over that time, I have seen many wonderful things as “my” kids have grown up, but I’ve seen some things that have broken my heart. This is an open letter addressing those things, so, please, take it for what it is.
Dear loved ones,
I love you. I want you to know that from the outset. I have watched you grow up from a distance, though some of you still come to me for advice now and again. I’m proud of much of what you’ve accomplished. I’ve watched you graduate. I’ve watched you make lives for yourselves. Some of you are married with children, and I revel in your accomplishments. But there are some things I cannot, will not, and should not be happy over. I love you, but I can’t be happy for you when you go against God’s designs.
Yes, I am addressing the ones who’ve dismissed God’s design for them, and reinvented themselves, saying “this is who I am.” I am also addressing those who’ve gone against God’s design from the beginning, where He made them male and female, blessed them, and told them to be fruitful and multiply (Jesus taught on that, so I do too). And no, I am not exclusively harping on same-sex or transgendered issues. Divorce, living with someone out of wedlock, asking for godly and biblical counsel and advice, and doing the opposite, merely because you have the right, ignoring the Bible or passing it off as a moral book or code. The partying, the playing games with eternity, just because you can, or you might offend those who invited you if you don’t.
I’m not speaking from someone on a high horse. I did some of that stuff too. I am a sinner, as everyone else is, but I know what Jesus calls me to. I came home. I followed Jesus’ path. And it’s a hard path. The world makes life all about you. “Do what makes you happy,” this is what it tells you, isn’t it? But think about all the destruction you’re not paying attention to in the pursuit of that happiness. How many family members have you cut off, merely because you wanted to be happy? Oh sure, they have their flaws too, but it’s easy to call someone toxic and write them off, if it means you can be happy. Toxicity is a two way street, and we’re all toxic in our self-interest. I was toxic when thinking those who were toxic were ruining my life and chance at happiness. Then I had a dose of reality. I stared down a 300 foot cliff after chasing my happiness, willing to drive my car over it. Everything I had built my life around, everything that made me happy was broken, irreparably so. But God came in and drew me to something better (A long story, ask me about it, I’ll be happy to share).
If God can fix me, He can fix anybody. And that is the nature of sin: brokenness that we do to ourselves when we try and play God for ourselves in chasing happiness. Sin is disobeying the voice of God because we feel we know what is best for ourselves. Yet, Psalm 139 says God knows us intimately (I’ll place it below so you can read it). God designed each of us. And yes, He designed us knowing what rebellious idiots we all are. But He, our designer, knows what we should be. He, our designer wants to restore us to His intentions, but we have to let go of those things that cause us to sin, even if it hurts. And it hurts Him more than it hurts us: this isn’t what He had in mind when he declared it all to be “very good!” Sinners deserve death. I, a sinner, deserve death, but Jesus came and lived among us (that’s what this Christmas season we’re celebrating is all about). Not only did He live according to all of God’s righteous requirements, but He died so that we could be free, not merely from the burden of sin, but free FROM sin. But this freedom can only be gained as we surrender to Him.
So I hope you understand why I can’t be happy for you. I won’t like the posts, or offer congratulations on things that are outside of the will of God. But I will love you, I will pray for you, hope for you, and thank God for what He’s going to do for you as you surrender to Him. And I will pray, anticipating that God will do something great and mighty in your life. I love you, even if I do not agree with the choices you’ve made. And it is because I love you that I will stay close to Jesus’ side, hoping you’ll join me there.
God Bless you and return you to His side,
O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!