“Thus says the Lord God: I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out. I will break off a tender one from the topmost of its young twigs; I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it, in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar.”
Our youth choir is preparing to head out on tour a week from now. These young people have worked for months, learning music, practicing dances, and anticipating the joy of sharing God’s Word in song with people form Delaware to North Carolina. While God can work through anyone who is open to the Spirit’s power, it is certainly easier for God to take a cutting from a mighty cedar and plant that to take root and grow. And it is far more likely that a young person raised in a home that honors and worships God will find their way to discipleship than a youth raised in a home that fails to acknowledge the Lord.
Each one of us has the privilege of helping to shape the life of young people around us. It isn’t just our own children who look to us as examples. It may be the child who lives down the street, the youth who bags our groceries, the young person we taught in school. There are so many opportunities to interact with young people in our world, and so many times that we may not even realize that we are being observed, that our actions and words are having an effect. Our words and actions can help or hurt, can build up or injure.
Research tells us that adolescence is a time of exploring identity, and the time of life when the most decisions are made to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Every young person inner congregation has the potential to be a fully committed disciple of Jesus; but they also have the potential to turn their back on the Lord if what they observe suggests that Christianity is not the way to go. The story of Gandhi, how he explored the Christian faith but rejected it because of the institutional discrimination he experienced as a man of color during his years as a lawyer in South Africa, reminds us that our actions at one stage of an individual’s life can have life-long impacts.
So look around, consider who are the young people with whom; you come into contact, and make every effort to work with God to tend the young saplings planted by God, needing our nurture and care to become the mighty cedars God intended. Who knows – there may be pastors and professional ministry workers among them, maybe even the next Billy Graham!
Prayer: Gracious God, fill me with your Spirit this day. Let me live each and every moment showing your love to the world, building up those with whom I come in contact, and modeling the life of discipleship. Let my life shine so that all who see me, no matter their age, will say, “There, indeed, is a follower of Jesus Christ, and I want to be like that.” Amen.