Last Night To Preach To The Kids
Because of the Youth Group tradition of going carolling, this was my last TNT. It was weird. During worship I came up with my latest fear. I don't know how to be a regular church member. My dad is a pastor and I went straight from High School to my first part-time Youth Pastor position. So I have been in ministry all my 35 years. I am not sure I even know what to do if I am not on staff. I am really a little freaked out by the prospect. It is an odd fear I will give you but it is there nonetheless.
As our worship band was leading worship I really could sense the Spirit speaking to me. We sang Blessed Be Your Name and it was a hard song to get through. I mean I am standing there singing that no matter how bad my life gets, I am going to praise God. I sang, "You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name". Those are hard words for me right now. I felt convicted. If I am singing it, I better be believing it. I am not quite there yet. I pray that God will help me to be able to sing that song truthfully.
I had been doing Doug Field's series BEYOND THE YEARBOOK with the kids. I had been distracted with other work all day today and was pretty thankful that the sermon in a box was waiting for me. I put the sermon together adding my own illustrations and was all ready to go. Then during worship it hit me. This was going to be the last time I will speak to the Senior Highers from God's Word as their Youth Pastor. I started to panic a bit. Do I change what I was speaking about and come up with impromptu last words? Do I just continue the series as if nothing is different?
The first few moments of my message were awkward as the inner arguing continued. Finally, I told myself that trying to draw out the fact that this was my last message was a bit much to fill in 30 minutes. So, I went with the prepared message. Actually, that message was pretty fitting. We talked about God changing us so He can use us. Pretty deep stuff. After I finished the message. I stopped and started talking to the students before I prayed to end the service. I told them that if there were only two things I could share with them at my last time of speaking from God's Word, it would be first, love God with all you have. I read the Great Commandment and encouraged them to give God their all. I told them not to let anyone tell them that it is more important to love God with your mind than with your heart or with you strength than with your soul. They are all in there so Jesus must have thought they all needed our equal time.
Next, I shared with them my favorite verse. Many of them could have recited it with me I use it so often. "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future". We talked about trusting God's plan and believing He has great plans for us as well. It was hard to keep it together as with each passing word the lump in my throat grew bigger.
After the service I stood for about ten minutes and just held kids as they cried. It was not the easiest thing I have ever done. We still have a week left together and I will see most of them on Sunday and next Thursday. It is just so hard to say goodbye. In many ways I am still in denial that this is happening. It just doesn't seem real yet. I realize when it finally is real to me, there is going to be a major meltdown. I am not looking forward to that at all.
Tonight was the first of several hard days. More are coming. I am praying that God will provide the strength to withstand the heartbreak still yet to come.