Sometimes I think that being a youthpastor is the same way. The passion for youth that I have been given, also comes with this insane ability to just love teenagers. It's sort of crazy if you have never experienced it your self, but I truthfully don't know if I can say that I have ever met a teen I didn't love. There are a few I struggled to love, but when the layers were stripped away, their well being was still deep in my heart.
It is odd to love people you have met, so deeply and with abandon. Scary would probably be an understatment. There is this deep sense of vulnerability that goes along with love. I've experienced great loss with love. Loving teenagers is a heartbreaking endeaver. They do things that are akin to playing russian roulette with there lives, when they have unprotected sex, or any number of other risky behaviors, and each time I feel my heart break a little bit.
I care for them, though I have just met them, these teens here. I see them on the streets, in their cars, even in our church, and I start thinking about their lives. Who they are behind the scenes. I know there are girls that hate themselves. They starve themselves out of the need for control, the need to cope, a feeling of ugliness. There are boys that cut themselves, feeling that that is truly the only way to feel anything. I know that there are countless numbers of high schoolers that are contemplating taking their own lives. Still others feel like there isn't an adult in the world who cares for them and begin to wonder if they are even worth loving. That's when the pain of love comes in. Wanting to hold all of them and instill truth in each one, while knowing the impossiblity of that task is overwhelming sometimes.
That is when I remember... the love of God is greater. As much as I would do for those kids, as much as my heart breaks and bleeds, God's heart has done so much more. He literally bled and died to set them free. To show them that they are beautiful, that they are of value, that they have worth, that they are not an object to be used and tossed about, but that truly truly they are loved.
A few months ago I wrote a song for a student that I know. She is 14 and has had multiple sexual partners. For a little girl, which she still is in many ways, her life has taken so many dangerous turns. I wrote about how she was literally dying for truth in her life. I've spent many nights in tears with, and over this girl. Instilling in her truth is sometimes so difficult, and sometimes seems pointless, but I hold onto hope. I hope because I know that as much as I love this girl, there is a God who loves her inumerabely more.
As the old hymn says "
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints' and angels' song.
When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God's love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam's race—
The saints' and angels' song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky."
How marvelous His love for us, and for them!