Last Sunday our church was alive with the exuberance and pubescent voices of our congregational teens. Their passion for Jesus was palpable, their songs and hymns about worship blessing God, Jesus making the weak strong, and death having no victory, rose to the rafters. The energy of youth in its prime is a mighty force and when connected to the all-providing love of Jesus, it changes lives. I’ve seen it happen.
In a season of thirty years past, our family was looking for a new church where our daughters would not have to be dragged rolling their eyes and wearing bedhead to Sunday school. We wanted a church we could call family, and where Jesus was worshipped loud and clear. One Sunday, we ascended discreetly to the balcony to check out the services at KPC. Our three girls and one of their friends shuffled their feet behind us. Not prepared for the hilarious performance, hand clapping songs, and impassioned messages of a motley group of teenagers who had taken over the podium, we found ourselves wide-eyed and dumb-founded by the church’s Youth Sunday performance.
At the end of the service when an invitation was given to teenagers in the congregation to join the Youth Group, our middle daughter did not even wait for permission or her girlfriend’s company. “I want to be with them!” she declared, and she ran down the stairs to join the group who would soon become her dearest friends in life. In fact, she met her future husband among those teens, and many of them celebrated with the couple at their wedding in the church five years later. That daughter and our son-in-law now have five children and have all been active in the church and its youth programs. Their oldest child presented the message for Youth Sunday a few years ago. Meanwhile, we, along with other extended family members, have been involved in the church for over thirty years. Never mistake the power of the church’s youth!
As the teens ministered to me Sunday through their service, I reflected on the passing of so many years gone by. Confronted by an unexpected change with the departure of the family just mentioned who moved to another state, I have been heartbroken and unbalanced. While they begin a fresh season of new friends, schools, and activities, I wondered how I would manage in this time of change. Our kids are busy with their families, my husband is about to retire and take up permanent space, we both are more sensitive to disorder and less tolerant of interruptions, and unless we pack up and travel, everything around us seems to be the same old thing. I felt sad and stuck in an old season.
The 2015 Youth Sunday’s new generation ministry reminded me the “same old thing” in God’s hands is never the same. With God, all things are new and to those who love Him, all things are for the good.
When we are faced with a new season, whether it is from a sudden tragedy, draining illness, wedding celebration, new school year, or a family move, we have only our human emotions and past paradigms to prepare us for what we don’t know. Change can be frightening; even positive change brings with it nervous anticipation. Left to our own resources, we tend to let the uncertainties become monsters as we dread the future. In my lowest moments, being stuck in “the same old thing” has given me horrors of the rocking chair blues.
With God, a new season is one of hope and promise. Who of us can look back, review our lives, and our God-stories, without marveling at His provision, protection, and promises kept? Yes, every season has been different, like the seasons of nature that keep changing in weather and way of life. Just as we need warm coats and long pants in cold weather and wear shorts and flip-flops in the summer, so God covers us with His guidance in the unique and necessary ways we need in the various seasons of our lives. Yet He has never changed.
C.S. Lewis was an older gentleman when he wrote, “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” He wasn’t stuck in a stale place, nor is any other child of God.
Prone to activity and movement, I was a little hesitant the other day when my neighbor invited me to her porch to “sit and wait” while her butterflies eked out of their rubbery cocoons, dried their sopping wings, and finally found their way in the air. Their next stop would be Texas (talk about a change in seasons). Trying to adjust to my own new journey, I postponed walking until later and went to sit with my neighbor. As I watched the miracle of golden black-laced wings unfurl, I heard God whisper, “Welcome to your new season!”
Just as the rising teens at Youth Sunday sang boisterously about their love for God being, “wide as the sky”, Christ’s Great Commission through them is the same as it had been through the Youth Group who welcomed our daughter so long ago. No matter what season you and I are in today, God has never changed and He is still carrying out His mission through us. Seasons come and go, but God’s truths are everlasting.
“Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God…” O. Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest