This Fall Season my involvement with YoungLives had to be more limited than other seasons due to my head coaching position at Fountain Valley High School. Upon returning to the activities I enjoy being a part of I have noticed that the young ladies I spend so much time with last year were so welcoming and receptive to my return.
I enjoy going to YoungLives Club, and some of the young lady’s class on Thursday morning at Valley Vista High School. We work on homework assignments and talk through planning how to finish school. Casual conversations about their daily lives and some of the struggles they endure come up in between homework packets. These are the moments I enjoy the most. It seems that the girls have very uncertain lives outside of school and really need to talk to someone about what to do in certain situations, especially when planning to have a baby or parent a young child while they are still in their youth. I enjoy these conversations because the girls really seem to listen and care about our investment in their lives. Often times we talk about how to diffuse situations at home or with their boyfriends, or how to apologize, or how to see things from their parent’s perspective etc. It is difficult to discuss the complexities of relationships, but isnt that what Jesus calls us to as he exemplified that example his whole life here on earth…
I think about the Gospel, and what kind of person Jesus is, I remember how He always seemed to do “the hard stuff” with people. He was always right there in the midst of those difficult conversations with people. I recall as Jesus sits and shares a meal with the tax collectors and “sinners” at Matthew’s house in Matthew 9:10-14. Jesus approaches Matthew at his tax collecting table and says “Follow Me.” and immediately Matthew does. Now, I am no Bible scholar, but Matthew followed Jesus because he knew Jesus. This wasn’t the first time they had ever met. They have spoken on numerous times before because Jesus was intentional with His time in that area. I’m sure Matthew did not document every conversation him and Jesus had, but this on was the life changing one and it was what lead to the point Jesus made at that dinner table. As both Jesus and Matthew dine at Matthew’s house more tax collectors and “sinners” join them. This particular meal created talk among the Pharisees. In verse 13 it says, “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ On hearing this Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’
This makes me think. What am I doing with my time? Who am I spending my time with? Without diving into a deep cultural understanding of Jesus’ day and how it compares to our modern culture, I think it is very clear that we, as believing Christ followers, we are to see the opportunities to eat with those that do not know salvation and who Jesus is. We have neighbors, coworkers and in this case for me young ladies that live so close to me, that need to be encouraged in how Jesus wants to take over their life and teach them about how much He wants to be in their heart and help them make decisions in life. That is what I enjoy the most about participating in YoungLives events. These conversations that lead to meals at club, that leads to coffee dates and tutoring sessions. These are the moments that allow for us both to be encouraged by the Truth of Jesus and how much He wants to lead our lives, be the “doctor” because we are sick from dealing with sin, and call us to repentance, turning from our old ways and walking in His way. This is why I continually attend club even though I have club practice and coaches meetings. I see that Jesus works through these conversations and has made dramatic changes in the lives of some young ladies that have shared with me. I see change as well. I see how God works in their hearts, softening their hearts to deal with their home life in different ways. I think it helps that they feel like they have a support system in YoungLives cheering them on and encouraging them to do the “hard stuff” by apologizing, or discontinue hanging out with a certain group of friends that might not be good influences on their lives and their baby’s life.
I know that I will continue to attend club and class and as many other events as I can, because it is worth it. The girls are worth it. I also benefit from the reminders of how to live like Jesus the more I interact with these lovely ladies and continue to have those difficult conversations about life and troubles and how God desires to come into our lives and change us where we need to be changed. Thank God for His mercy and grace to accept us as we are and lovingly change us to be more like Him, living in His ways. He is a good God that desires good gifts for His children in addition to the good gift of salvation in Jesus. Thank You Jesus for dying for our sins, so we can be saved and live in Your ways and Your peace.