“Could you sign your signature here?” she asked. Lifting up her arm as her and a friend approached me. Two girls in a parking lot of a giant church. We had invited the youth group and whoever else wished to skate, get free food and hear some worship music to come out to hang with us.
I cruised around and judged the contest, engaging with the kids and believing that the mess I may have made in my own life earlier on, that my testimony, and most importantly The Gospel of Jesus Christ would go on that night to transform lives.
“Of course” I would sign her arm. In her mid teens hanging out with her friends as the music played. Everything felt good about the night. People skated good, the food was good, The Gospel went out and people confessed, as we entrusted them to The Lord.
Grabbing her wrist with my sharpie ready in hand, I looked down to find a clean patch of skin to tag.
Really? This is happening? Your holding out your arm for me to sign with cuts and scars from elbow to wrist in all shapes and sizes? My neck straightened up and my eyebrows rose.
Her light brown hair covered her innocent face as she began to look up at me.
Was she so comfortable in what she had done to her arm that she thought I would be just as comfortable, simply going on to sign her marred skin while getting on with my day? Or, was she showing me the war wounds of her life, as a way to cry out and for me to hear from this misunderstood teen?
I grabbed her arm tighter and put my other arm around her, sideways hugging her and asking her “what is going on?”. “Are you ok?”. “How did this happen?”.
By now you have to understand that in the midst of my life of traveling the US and other parts of the world, prepping messages, partnering with ministries and jumping around on my skateboard to share The Gospel, I am met at almost every youth event, with teens just like this. Teen’s who really are coming to the church as a place of refuge and who are on their way to growing deeper into a relationship with Jesus.
But as good as this sounds and is, it is normally a church leader or someone like my self who is first exposed to the state of the life that many of our youth are facing.
This past week while away I was met with two girls after a message I had shared. One sat and told me how a parent had left out pills, suggesting she take her own life, and do away with herself, because no one cared. Along with this, the same mom had later actually stabbed her, and went on to kick her out of her home.
Looking for refuge, she moved on to live with her dad, who in his anger had grabbed her head and put it through a window, only confirming that neither he not her mother were suitable for showing the love, that our Almighty God has for this girl.
Standing in that parking lot, about to sign this girls arm, arm around her inviting her to open up, she broke. I had just shared the mess of my life, so “if you want to be vulnerable we can be, this is a safe place, and we serve a God who wants to expose and deal with this”.
Not knowing her name, or all that she has been through, I did know one thing, that I have a daughter named Eden, and that just as much as I want to protect her from ever falling into the situation this girl was in, that Our Father in Heaven loves this girl far beyond what I can ever love my own daughter, and she needed to hear all about His love for her this night.
As she began to share and consider the consequences of what she has been doing, The Word of God began to affirm her. John 10:10 “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy” and satan/the thief, had done more than enough “stealing, killing and destroying” in her life.
He was lying to her about her worth, her image, who she is meant to be, and what life is about. She was trying to fit in, be accepted, feel better about herself, and chase a reality that is always needing more. Sound familiar?
She needed to hear that she was made in the “image of God” (Gen 1:26-27) IMAGO DEI!. That she was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14 ). Whatever someone had said, had done or was doing to her could be stopped, she could be healed, and she can get on with her life, living with purpose. Whatever wrongs were committed could be forgiven, and she could “choose” that night to forgive, let go off and be free from.
You see, just as satan was at work, and is at work in this world (2 Cor 4:4), Jesus is at work, and came to “give us life, and life more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Our teens shouldn’t be beaten down, trodden upon, locked up in room feeling they should do away with themselves. Regardless of who tells them so, they should know they are the “object of His affection” (Deut 10:15), the reason for The Cross, the purpose in Gods heart for “God so loving the world that He sent His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, would not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
On a more practical note, to any teens out there, once you finish high school, hit your twenties and get on with life, a job, spouse, children, you will look back to these teenage years wondering why so many things got you down, messed up your day, or even took you to a place of cutting or being suicidal.
I am not saying life is easy, but I am saying perspective will change everything. And after all, “perspective” is your reality!
Through out this past week, I have got to encounter many many teens who have no where to turn, who are fighting to make it through each day, and who are even on their last legs.
I am blessed that I got to share in their walk this past week, and that I got to speak life into them, in The Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen! But for you today, open up your eyes, pray that God would show you, who around you needs to hear of His Love for them. Who needs to hear His Voice and the work He did on The Cross for them, and Who is able to put an end to the lies and the attacks of the enemies assaults on their lives.
Jesus said “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), yet He took off, back to Heaven, where He is seated beside The Father in Heaven. So How is He the “light of the world” then? He is the Light of the world, because He lives in believers, in His followers, in the midst of those who now have His presence.
Where ever you are today, be it in hurt and in pain, misunderstood and feeling lost, God is aware, and sent His Son to prove He loves you. He is The “Father to The Fatherless” (Psalm 68:5).
Maybe your not one of those who are struggling through it, but I am sure you are around people who need encouragement, to hear the truth, and to be loved. He sent you to them when He said “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matt 5:14).