This Monday I am departing from my normal format and topic to share something that I believe is vitally important in any ministry.
In the wake of the past week’s events, I, like most others, am left with many more questions than answers. I hear of a mall shooting in Portland, OR (minutes from where I used to live), a horrific act of evil in Newtown, Connecticut and have dealt with a more personal tragedy. This past Saturday, one of our student’s close friends, a young man who attended our church on many occasions was killed in a freak car accident at the age of sixteen.
My heart breaks for every one of these families. I have shed tears, offered up prayers and done all I know to do… yet it feels like it is not enough. When I survey these events, I feel demoralized, depressed, and at times, defeated. Yet in the midst of all of this, I know that hope remains. I know that that the Spirit of God is able to bring comfort and peace to the hurting. I can testify to His ability to bring good out of the darkest of situations, but He does that through people like you and me.
This post is not a deep or theological debate as to why these things happened. This is a reminder to express your love to those close to you, including your students. This week, take some time to depart from the busyness of the season, to break away from your normal routine. Call some students and tell them, “I love you”. Seriously, say it to them. Text them a message letting them know you care. Post an encouraging word on their Facebook wall (so everyone can see).
As I write this post, I see a flood of messages posted on the wall of the student who was killed this weekend. Almost every one of them says, “I love you”, “You will be missed” or “I wish I would have told you how much you meant to me”. Sadly, we wait to say the most important things until it is too late. Sometimes we don’t say anything because we are consumed with other things and other times it is simply because it seems awkward.
At this point, I would much rather suffer through a few awkward moments, than live with the regret of not saying anything. Two days before the student from our church died in the car accident, I saw him at McDonald’s. We exchanged a few short words, but that was pretty much it. I had no idea that would be the last time I saw him.
An evangelist recently shared a powerful statement with me. He said, “I can live with failure, but I can not live with regret.” Life is series of choices. Those choses are filled with levels of risk. I have determined that loving people is a risky business. Love risks rejection. Love risks betrayal. Love risks hurt and heartache. If anyone know this, it is Jesus, yet He loves us. In response to such amazing love, my only response is to love Him back and to share that love with those around me.
This world will not be healed by more laws, greater awareness or simple life changes. People can only find healing in and through the love of Jesus Christ. I can not change everyone else, but I can allow God to change me.
Today, tell your students you care about them. If you have kids (I have 4!), give them a hug and tell them you love and are proud of them. Express love TODAY! It won’t right every wrong or erase every evil, but the Bible tells us that “love covers a multitude of sins”. The love of God is more powerful than any tragedy or force of darkness on this earth. As the apostle Paul reminds us, love conquers all.