I travel all of the time. It can certainly be an exhausting way to live, but the rewards of sharing Christ’s love all over the world is an great motivation for my family and I. Oftentimes, I will be home long enough to swap out old clothes for new, take the kids to a game, or escape with my wife for a much-needed dinner. We have miraculously found a balance in the chaos of constant travel, but it still can be draining on those in the air and on the ground at home. With all of the gadgets made to make traveling “easier,” I don’t think I would do what I do unless God had called us as a family to this apostolate. I am sure the same could be said about you and the work you do with your youth. While it is draining, the ability to press on amidst the constant obstacles would be impossible, without the realization that this is what you are called to.
Practically speaking, I never show up at an airport without a clear idea of where I am heading. Even with the numerous frequent flyer options I might accrue over a given year, I still have a destination in mind for my travel plans. This is applicable for our youth programs. We must know where it is we are taking teens. For me as a speaker, I am confident about where I want to take those who are listening to my words. I am taking them to Christ! It does not matter if kids think I am funny, a good singer, or even an eloquent speaker. I must take them to Jesus, who can heal their wounds, answer their questions, and satisfy their longings.
Where are you going?
In order for you to arrive at the final destination, you need to know where it is you are heading. In many ways, this destination is not so much a place as it is a Person. If our days are filled taking one more step into the arms of Christ, then you can be sure our journey will not be in vain. If your youth ministry is aimed towards Christ, it will not be in vain either. Remember Jesus called Himself “the Way.” Jesus is not just like a way, nor is he a path among many. Jesus is THE way! This declaration of purpose should be held in the hearts of us all! The Way; regardless of your position in life, your previous travel catastrophes, or your inabilities and oddities, you are invited to walk upon the road with the one who IS the destination that you most long to arrive at!
Where have you been?
Our past does play a role in how we approach our future destination. You see this all of the time as kids stumble into your youth programs. The horrors some of them experience on a daily basis, has most certainly impacted how they process authority figures and potential scenarios of uncertainty. Family situations can impact a young person’s picture of God as Father, especially if their dad has been abusive or absent.
We have so many wounded people in our groups that it can seem overwhelming. Yesterday, a man came up to me and shared how as a young boy a seminarian had solicited him in a most inappropriate way. As a grown man now, he needed a Good Samaritan (a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation) to enable him to step out of his past and into the future. Where have you been? Where have your youth been? I am not sure about the specifics, but if it has been a place of darkness, hurts or hopelessness, you can be sure that Christ is standing beside you, ministering the healing into your life that you most long for. Let Him into your previous journeys in order to heal and enable you to step into your future.
Where are you now?
When thinking of our journey, it is important to consider where we find ourselves today. If you currently reside in the present with past issues left unresolved, it will oftentimes leave you in a state of paralysis. Remember that St. Paul likens this life to a race. There is a beginning, middle and an end. You are made to RUN today, not rest. Where do you find yourself today? If you are sitting, looking about, unclear about the next step, then my friend you are going to miss out on the opportunities God has granted you today. Get up and run! The rest and place of continued peace will come, but it isn’t today.
Be encouraged: Christ has chosen you to journey towards Him a little more today. Remember, you and your youth group will not arrive at the destination in a day, a week, a month, or even a year. You impact these kids at only ONE section of their race. That is it! With that in mind, what will you do for them? How can you assist these teens in stepping closer to Christ today? God has a reason for placing you in this part of their journeys. Do not miss the opportunities.
No joke, a man just ran past me, and it looks like he is just going to make his flight! Guess what, the gate agent is going to take his boarding pass and let him on the plane. Right now! I can see him at this moment walk through the door. Final call is being given, and the door is closed. Just in time! You can still make it my friends, but you might have to run the last bit of the race with an unmatched intensity thus far. You can do it! You have never been alone on this journey; look at who is standing next to you.