Reflections of a Middle School Camp Pastor, Day 2
WORDS FROM W.W. July 17, 2012
Yesterday we climbed a mountain! Last night we struggled with the pain!
Not the pain in my knees, mind you, but rather the pain in the lives of middle school students. I had encouraged them to write down questions they had for God about something that troubled them. The responses gave me a view of the landscape of heartache and doubt that “recently-turned teenagers” deal with.
And, troubling as it sounds, a sense of cynicism towards the workings of God. They are troubled by, what they perceive, as God’s inactivity. Where was the Almighty when they felt picked on? Why did he create life and then allow someone close to them to die? Why pray if God is going to do what he wants to do anyway?
In essence, they are open to asking questions that my generation was afraid to ask, although we may have thought them! My generation got structure in Sunday School and youth group (which were good things). We dealt with “when, where, what, which, and how.” What we seldom dealt with, however, which the middle school group is willing to, is “why?” We had the Biblical numbers down…”forty this” and “twelve that”…but time seldom allowed us to get to the why.
Our Associate Pastor, when I had gone off to college was a guy named Jerry Heslinga. When I would come home on break, or for the summer, I would love to be involved in discussions or Bible studies with Jerry, because Jerry was not afraid to take the “why road.”
Now I gladly am leading…or perhaps being led…by these middle schoolers down that same road. It’s a pathway that does not guarantee answers, but encourages the searching.
Last night I was ready to launch into a presentation on Joseph’s journey from the pits to the heights, from the dungeon to exactly the place God wanted him to be in.
BUT…a few of the campers were dealing with something last night, a loss in their own lives, and I sensed that what I was to say could keep for another day. I turned to one of the counselors, a great young man about 22 named Bobby Cody. I said, “Bobby, come here.” He came to the front of our meeting area and I simply asked him “Tell us why you love Jesus?” For the next five to six minutes Bobby shared from his heart to a group of kids, who were focused on what he was saying.
Which describes something else about this coming-up generation. They aren’t afraid to ask why, but they also want to hear the truth, and about the Truth, as it is being experienced and lived out of someone’s life.