“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
Luke 15:11-13, 17-20 NIV
I stood listening to the Mother’s tearful request for prayers concerning her son. Her heart, along with practically everyone in the congregation, was broken. Her son had grown up in a Christian home. He’d participated in the youth ministries from a toddler, first as a primary Sunday School student and then through all the other activities the church offered: junior choir, junior usher, mime ministry, drill team – you name it. He’d made a profession of Christ in his heart and proudly proclaimed his salvation. Everyone could see the calling of God upon his life, and his parents fully expected he would one day go into the ministry.
When it came to church and living for God, he’d done it all.
Until he didn’t want to do it anymore.
At some point in his late teens, he somehow determined that being saved was for “nerds” and “dweebs.” The incessant teasing and ostracism had finally gotten to him, and he was tired of being “on the outside.” He wanted to be accepted. He wanted to be part of the crowd. He wanted to be down; he wanted to be cool.
And down he went. It started with being disruptive in his high school classes, and then skipping them altogether. His GPA, once a point of pride, crashed and burned. Alarmed, his parents and teachers tried to reason with him, reminding him of the good colleges awaiting him, and the good life (and good salary!) he would make once he finished. But good grades were for nerds, and so was school.
One thing led to another – alcohol, drugs, promiscuity; the works. His life continued to spiral out of control until one day he decided to join with three of his friends in robbing a liquor store. One of them had a gun, and they’d only use it to scare the clerk – they wouldn’t actually shoot anyone. It would be a piece of cake! The money would be easy and fast, and could finance drug purchases for each of them. It seemed like a good idea at the time; that is, until everything went horribly wrong and his friend lay bleeding on the floor. In attempting to draw his gun, he had been no match for the store clerk.
When the shot rang out and his friend crumpled, he’d turned and looked down at his friend in amazement. He’d turned screamed at the clerk, “Why did you shoot him?! Nobody was supposed to get hurt!”
He couldn’t do it; he hadn’t been able to run away with his two other friends and just leave his friend there. Crying and sobbing, he’d held him in his arms, willing him to make it; willing him to live. In those fleeting moments before the police arrived, before they had drawn their guns on him and then cuffed him, his entire life had flashed in front of his eyes. He saw himself at 4-years old, quoting his Easter speech, and again at 13, admiring their new choir robes.
And then he saw himself at 16; making a conscious decision to forego everything he had been taught, everything he had learned about living for God. It had not happened overnight. He’d thought about it long and hard, and had wrestled with himself, and with God. He saw himself the moment he’d decided to say, “Forget it!” and walk away from God.
And now he was in a jail cell. His friend had died in his arms. The harsh reality of that moment had forever changed him – and sent him running back to God in repentance. Facing his parents had been the worst; he couldn’t even look them in the face. Thank GOD their love for him was unconditional, just as God’s love was. His Mother and Father had reached for him and pulled him close; their tears mingling with his. They had cried together and prayed together, and now they were placing his future in the hands of the Lord.
It was Sunday morning, and he knew where his Mother would be. Indeed, there she was – at the altar crying out to God on his behalf and asking the Evangelist to pray for him.
We’ve all seen them (and some of us have even been them): the kids who believe they are “too cool for school.” As our young people go off to school this year, let’s be diligent in praying
and interceding on their behalf. Join with me in bombarding heaven, petitioning God to keep the hearts and minds of our youth centered and focused on Christ. Ask the Lord to give them courage, inner fortitude and strength, so they can stand in the face of teasing, ridicule and bullying. Pray with me that they never think they’re too cool for school or too cool for salvation! Be Blessed.