Let’s take a second and think of Abraham. Indulge and follow me. You may remember the story. Childless and desperate the Lord makes him a promise: “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:5 Years (many) pass and finally the heir, Isaac is born. While still a child, Abraham is asked to sacrifice him. The Lord calls to take Isaac off the alter, and states once again the promise. Only this time the Lord says that the descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky AND the sands on seashore. (Genesis 22).
Digest how many descendants that could be: countless.
How many did Abraham SEE with his own eyes?
One half- son: Ismael (who did not “count” towards his descendants technically because the promise was to Abraham through Sarah.)
One son: Isaac
Two Grandsons (Twins): Jacob and Esau who were 15 when Abraham died.
3 ½ descendants total.
In the Hebrews 11 explanation of those who understood faith this statement is made (vs. 12 &13)
And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
The Lord looked at Abraham he did not see a man and wife who at almost 100 would give birth to ONE boy. He saw the father of nations, the first of God’s chosen people. His gaze was always on who Abraham was created to be. For this reason Abraham had faith that ,whether he observed anything in his own lifetime, it would happen. Why? God promised, and that makes it truth.
As I think of this story, I think of how I view students. Do I only gaze at who is in front of me or do I see them as the Lord does? I have made statements like, “That kids life is so wretched he’ll be lucky if he makes it at all,” “That student could never care about anything,” or “Youth rebel, you know it’s just what they do.” On a deeper level I have taken it into the family, “That Mom/ Dad is so destructive I wonder it’s no wonder their children are such a mess.” What about my community? My utterances have been, “The problems are too big, nothing could ever be any different.” Sometimes I have said, “It’s too much, and we just have to except this is the way it is. The world is getting worse. Youth just are complacent and families will never be whole.” The negative tirades can go on and on from any perspective of ministry.
Here is the problem when any of us dwell here. We forget the truth. The Lord has TOLD us that he came for us while we were still sinners. God told us that there is a purpose and a plan for each one. Christ never claimed we would see the fulfillment of all his promises in our lifetime. He looks at each soul as his child, forgiven, loved, transformed, new in Him, shameless, hope-filled, found, worth pursuing, his created, and his reflection just to name a few. He is knocking on every heart and saying, “I am here, You can be mine and I will be yours.” THEN once we KNOW we are HIS- he embraces us an heir. He understands that when we “get” how much he loves us all we can do is give that immeasurable love away. You see to Jesus we are all WANTED. He does not look at ONE and think they are “too far gone.”
The funny thing is I have witnessed this in my own life and those around me.
One of my accountability partners is an ex-crack addict with a 7th grade education from the heart of the inner-city. Her understanding of who Christ is shames me.
There is the student that everyone gave up on who is now a pastor.
There is the Mom that was tossed aside as “no good” who is now trying to love Jesus and be a better parent.
The apathetic urban student I thought never heard a word I said who is now working with urban youth.
The one I mentored who is the first generation in her family to be married and then to have a baby not as an unwed teen.
It shames me to admit that sometimes the end of these stories have shocked me. These aren’t even my “only” stories. Still I looked at lives as “done for,” instead of with the visionary eye of the Lord. In my own conviction I asked him to change my heart. Could I look at a life the way that he does? Could I see as Abraham did? Whether I witness anything in a student – ever- will I KNOW that Jesus is still at work? For God promised.
Perhaps our job was only to plant the seed, while others watered and another still harvested. If we all grabbed hold of faith in this same way, knowing it isn’t about what is in front of our face what would change? I am wondering how it would alter the face of youth ministry if we looked at EVERY student and EVERY family as transformed, vibrant followers of Jesus?
Is it possible to only see 3 ½ and still know the promise to be true? Then most importantly live it out?
I’m a work in progress in this area. I am wondering will you join me?