I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more. ― C.S. Lewis
Sitting in my office as I write, a woman drives by on the street below with her window down. Screaming at the top of her lungs she yells at her young son, “Shut up Jesse!” He keeps silent.
Your name can be used to build you up or tear you down. Many kids in our cities can go through a whole week without hearing the sound of their name in a gentle and loving tone. When they hear their name, it is attached to anger or annoyance. I wonder, what is going to bring hope to Jesse and give him a future when he becomes an adolescent? What will prepare him to take on the responsibilities of becoming a young man?
Then I dream of a better future for Jesse. What if Jesse had a caring adult enter into his life to show him that there is a loving Heavenly Father out there who wants to have a relationship with him? What if Jesse, could somehow hear the loving voice of God speak into his life, “Jesse, you are my son whom I love.” Jesus heard that voice as he was baptized in the Jordan River out in the wilderness. And that blessing set the course for the rest of his life.
1. THE “WILDERNESS FACTOR” JESUS MODELED PREVENTS BUSY TRAIN-WRECKED LIVES
If the wilderness factor was not there in Jesus’ life then we could easily justify an upward spiral toward unbridled productivity and runaway busyness that would lead us all to train wrecked lives. Thankfully Jesus modeled restraint and personal limitations because he wanted us to imitate his rhythms. One of the reasons families and cities erode is because people don’t take care of themselves and give themselves permission to enjoy solitude with God. The wilderness factor was prominent in Jesus’ life and it promoted a marathon pace. Kids today in our cities need adult leaders who will stop sprinting and figure out the value of running a marathon instead. Young people need mentors and guides who have bandwidth and margin to minister to them in most tumultuous season of their lives: Adolescence.
What gives me hope as I am praying for Jesse is that one of the consistent fruits I see in young people who have the opportunity to enjoy a camp experience with loving adults who are intentional about modeling the Gospel. They get a chance to fully experience the good news of Jesus in an environment of grace and truth in the context of Creation. Being immersed in the “Book of Creation” can only help the process. Many young people have rarely or never been surrounded by the pristine beauty of God’s Creation. And when they are, they begin to see aspects of his character that cause awe in him.
2. GOD’S VOICE DROWNS OUT VOICES OF ANGER & ANNOYANCE THAT HURT YOUR SOUL
What if Jesse could encounter Jesus personally and then through the discipleship of a caring youth leader or parent, gain a vision for how to become part of the Family of God where he could begin to grow and hear his Heavenly Father’s voice over the ring in his ears of his angry parents, crushing and ridiculing him day after day? As I have led hundreds of young people on week-long wilderness journeys, I have seen the miracle of transformation happen for so many “Jesse’s.” I wrote Christian Outdoor Leadership to hopefully convince and equip a whole generation of young leaders that if we are going to bring change to our cities and communities, and ultimately the hearts of broken young people all around us, we need to find creative ways to quiet the noise for the young. Young people’s greatest need is to hear the Heavenly Father speak to them through the sounds of honking horns, thumping woofers, perpetually pumping earbuds, and droning talking heads that could care less about character.
3. THE SIGHTS & SOUNDS OF GOD’S CREATION EXPOSE THE LIES OF CULTURE AND SOOTH THE SOUL WITH TRUTH
Lets face it, gaming, the latest music, and the latest sit-coms are not going to bring hope or life to young people. Yet this has become their food and drink. The airwaves have become the voices of truth in their lives. Consider this: Even in the much-less-technological days of Christ, Jesus saw it necessary to spend a large majority of his time with his young Disciples out in the wilderness. He taught them to how to hear the voice of their Heavenly Father so that they could engage the cities of their day with the good news people longed for. If Jesus made such a concerted effort to get people out of the hustle and bustle to clean out their ears, and minister to their hearts in an era which was much less-technologically noisy, then don’t you think that the need for helping kids quiet their souls is equally if not more important today?
To help the Jesse’s of our world encounter Jesus and change the trajectory of their lives, we need to first prioritize abiding with Jesus ourselves. How might Jesus be inviting you to create more space to think and listen to him?
If we are going to bring change to our cities and communities, we need to find creative ways to quiet the noise for young people. If you yearn for this, please continue following my blog and consider reading my book, Christian Outdoor Leadership for practical ways to follow Jesus’ example of regular retreat.