I went into teaching years ago because I love kids, including teenagers. I love sharing Christ with them too, but it’s so much harder than with adults. I recently texted a teenager I know who’s struggling and told her I’d be praying for her. I told her God loved, saw, and cared for her. Although I believed that, I also know kids who’ve grown up in the church are skeptical. They’ve heard it before. It’s cliché. And although I knew in the moment God would show up for her, after I hit send, I panicked.
What if He didn’t?
If I’m honest, I’m afraid to tell teens God loves them. There have been times in my own life that God’s love was something I deeply craved, but it never seemed to materialize. There have been times I’ve thought I was seeing, hearing, and feeling God’s love, but when nothing in my life seemed to change, I wondered if God’s love was a wishful, made-up, and ineffectual illusion. Why would I risk setting an impressionable teenager up for that kind of disappointment?
But one of the blessings I’ve found in discipling women of all ages, is it forces me to confront my own fears, doubts, and confusions about Christ. It makes me revisit hard questions about my faith. When I realized I was afraid God might not show up for my young friend, I had to pray, think about, and process what I really believed. I had to search my Bible and come to a place of unwavering belief in what I was assuring her in.
Yesterday, another friend asked me how we know how God loves us. One way I’ve felt God’s love is from James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” Is a sunrise I notice and I’m awed by, my daughter asking me to spend time with her, or reading a passage of Scripture that pierces my soul and brings a tear to my eye – is that from God? I could rationalize them to be something else. I could doubt they are “from God.” I could reason they’re coincidence, luck, or something that happened because I wanted it to. But as I told my inquisitive friend, and myself because I needed the reminder, if the Bible tells us every good and perfect gift is from above, why would we attribute any good thing to something other than God? Why wouldn’t we just thank Him and trust He sees, cares for and loves us in that?
This morning I texted my young teenage friend again, but this time with a renewed confidence. And perhaps merely loving others with our own evolving belief in the depth of God’s love, is the best way to share Him. When we can encourage others trusting God makes a difference when things are difficult (even if what’s difficult in our lives may not change at all), sharing Him doesn’t seem so scary. In fact, the more assured I become of God’s love, the more the most frightening thing seems to be,
Saying nothing at all.