Drug and alcohol abuse. Promiscuity. Cutting. Friends committing suicide, loved ones being shot. Sexual molestation at the hands of family. Parents telling their son or daughter that they are worthless and wishing they were never born. These were some of the words spoken by high school students during a Bible camp chapel I had attended during a recent summer. There were so many of these accounts shared that I sat stunned and aching inside. Emotions were running high, and tears were flowing.
While a handful of these youth may have been seeking attention, I believe many of them simply needed to release the baggage caused by these poor decisions and violations at the hands of others. ‘Release to increase’ – a concept I was taught in earlier years, continues to prove itself true. Many of them stepped out and shined light on hurtful areas, opening a pathway to healing and understanding.
Yet despite the intense emotions of the night, there is the gnawing reality that some of these students will return to their homes and resume life as it were before they came. They will squander the open door to their hearts and let the tidal wave of feelings drift off into the horizon where memory fades. Once again they will step onto wrong paths and bring pain, hurt, and confusion upon themselves, all the time wondering “Why God?” unaware that they are being steered by their brokenness and an enemy that feeds on it.
Thankfully there is another reality. A brighter one. Some of these students will get serious about their faith and move beyond profession and identification to action – and find freedom in doing so. Some will cash in on the valuable teaching they received and write it on their hearts and let it guide their steps. Some will recall the attention, affirmation, challenge, and love given to them by their counselors and seek to imitate them as the days pass by. Some will choose to let go of unhealthy relationships and spend time with the right people. Some will get their hands dirty in serving their Maker, hold fast to him and seek to know him, opening their Bibles on a regular basis. Some will begin to share their faith in Jesus and his death and resurrection with others. They will stumble, but they will reach out to the great hand and be lifted back to their feet.
Faith includes action. In order to experience the hope, transformation, and empowerment needed to live out real Christianity, one must first step into the river towards God, where both joy and pain await. Healing on the road.
Feelings and emotions are good. Action is necessary. Joined together, they are unstoppable.
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13