Monday, March 9, 2009

Never too young

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

Cathy was in junior high. I was a just-out-of-college English teacher. Who would have thought that she’d make such an impact on my life?

One day she asked to talk to me after class about a book I’d purchased for the classroom library, a book that reflected my worldly viewpoint.

Although I’d been raised in a home where faith was an integral part of life, college changed my perspective, and betrayal and deep disappointments had soured my beliefs. I thought I knew what the world was all about, but, in reality, I was adrift, without an anchor, and didn’t even know it.

Until Cathy objected to the book and its far-from-faith premise. The book, she informed me, was all wrong because it didn’t reflect the truth of the Bible. And there, in that classroom, she presented the Gospel to me in a way I’d never heard it before. I admired her for her simple, yet solid faith. She knew what she believed and why.

As she spoke—with such conviction—I remembered when I had faith, too. And in that moment I saw how far I’d drifted from God and longed for a faith like hers.

“Cathy,” I said, “don’t ever lose that faith. Hang on to it all your life, no matter what happens.”

When I had my first child a few years later, I knew it was time to get back to my roots and grow a faith like Cathy’s—and give my children a rich heritage of faith that would see them through the tough times of life.

That was more than 30 years ago. I don’t know where Cathy is now. But I’m forever grateful that she had the courage of her convictions to confront her teacher about a book that was out of line with what God says in His Word.

It just goes to show that you’re never too young to be used by God.

Too often we hear only bad about the younger generation. The ones who are disrespectful, rebellious, and selfish are the ones who make the news. We shake our heads and lament, “What is the world coming to?”

Let me tell you.

About college freshman John Wesley Tibbs. When John was in high school, he had a burning desire to help those who were dying of AIDS in Africa. For his senior project, this talented musician and composer produced a CD of his own music to raise money for an AIDS treatment and prevention center in the village of Kampala in Uganda. To date, Music for Kampala has raised $5,600.

“What is this world coming to?”

Let me tell you.

About high school senior Ashley Craig. Her compassion for those starving in Third World countries sparked a dream to make a difference. So, for her senior project, she challenged her church family from three congregations to join her in eating only beans and rice for three days, and donate the money they would have spent on groceries to a fund she created to feed the hungry in a Honduran village. She raised $8,500.

These two high school seniors, in two years, raised over $14,000 to help alleviate the suffering of people they don’t even know.

Times are crazy, the world is nuts, and our country is a mess. But we don’t have to despair. Not as long as there are young people like Cathy, John and Ashley.

And I’ll bet you know others—young people who are going the distance to make their lives count.

Who are part of a generation on fire for God.

A generation that knows they are not too young to make a difference in this world.

Dear God, show me ways I can support these young people on fire for You. Through them, I, too, can make a difference. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read 1 Timothy 4:12–16

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