We Don’t Have All the Time in the World. Not at All.

We Don’t Have All the Time in the World. Not at All.

The only thing that the darkness has to convince your church of in order to undo it is that it has all the time in world.  All the darkness has to do is to convince well-meaning people that it’s okay to not do things that they are uncomfortable doing.  It just needs to whisper the lie that given enough time they will become comfortable with the idea of reaching out to suffering people and will finally act.  That is all that is necessary.  I have fallen prey to it.  I will not do that again. And it is excruciating to listen to decent people give way to that lie.

If a mother ran into your church during worship and said that her child was trapped underneath a car and was in terrible pain, and was going to die if someone didn’t come and help her get that car off her child, what do you suppose the people in your church would do? Do you think that only the people with experience lifting cars off of children would come out and help?  I live in the hope that everyone would immediately drop what they were doing and rush out to the street to help her child. I live in the hope that everyone would understand that there was something at stake that was more important than their own comfort.  I think that the problem is that we just don’t understand that that is exactly what the situation is outside the walls of our churches.  There is an urgency to the mission that cannot be underplayed.  What is at stake is immediate and it is dire.  Lives are at stake…and souls are at stake.  Not later.  Right now! And every day that we sit in our pews waiting to get comfortable with the idea of going outside our walls and comfort zones, we lose another person to the darkness, the bullet, the despair, or the temptations of the street.  We do NOT have all the time in the world.

Last week alone, our mission lost two young people.  We lost them simply because we don’t have enough resources, enough people, and enough time to reach them all. The people we do have give until it hurts. But the need is even greater than the hundreds of dedicated people we have can carry.  Two of our young people who were so in need of someone to walk beside them every week were swallowed up.  One of them we lost to the temptation of sex.  We think we have all the time in the world to get comfortable with reaching out? Really? Do we not understand the glitter and power of teenage hormones? Last year, we just flat out didn’t have enough resources to go and pick up a girl to bring her to youth group…a place of proven radical transformation.  We were already overextended.  So she missed youth group.  Instead, she went over to her boyfriend’s house and got pregnant.  It was a first time.  It was an only time.  It only takes one time.  The boy was 18, and the girl just turned 16…she a junior and he a senior at the same school.  So the boy…and he really was still a boy…became a sexual predator and the girl became another teen mother with no way to support that child.  And it all would have been avoided if we just had a couple more people who understood what was at stake, and were willing to go outside their comfort zone and pick that girl up for youth group.  Who knows? Maybe we could have picked that boy up, too, and brought him into the Kingdom of God that day.

The law caught up with the boy last week. He didn’t believe it would really happen.  He was charged with 1st degree sexual assault of a child and was looking at 40 years.  Instead, he didn’t have a great lawyer and was convinced to plead to 3rd degree sexual assault of a child.  He got 3 ½ years and will be on the sex offender registry when he gets out.  He’s done.  He’s done and gone because we couldn’t get a girl a ride to youth group. I couldn’t get her or him a ride to a group where we teach a better way…where we see teenagers transformed to new life all the time.  Our people do a lot.  We live in the reality that we will not reach them all.  This isn’t “no-child-left-behind”.  We will reach every single one that our resources give us access to.  We have learned to live with the losses that we see…and feel…and grieve.   That being said, we are acutely aware that we don’t have all the time in the world to get comfortable with the idea of reaching out.  He is done. Gone. Lost.

And we lost another young man last week.  Do you know what we lost him over? Shoes.  He needed shoes.  We have plenty of shoes, so that really wasn’t the problem.  Really, the problem was that we didn’t take him in.  We didn’t put him under our wing every day. We simply didn’t have the resources to take another one into our lives and homes. That is our reality, and we have learned to live with it.  He has no mom.  She was lost to crack and prostitution. Done. Gone. Lost.  He doesn’t know who his father is.  This boy came so close to making it.  We had the resources to reach him every other Wednesday, and most Saturdays.  But we didn’t have the resources to reach him every day…even every week.  We had not yet really penetrated his decision-making cycles in a way that put Christ in his mind every day…every moment…every decision.  I haven’t yet found the resources willing to commit two Wednesdays a month that aren’t currently covered to cover what we couldn’t cover.  So we reach some.  And we lose some.

His name to us is “T”.  “T” needed shoes.  Maybe, he only wanted shoes.  But in a teenager’s mind, what’s the difference?  He had a little money, but he didn’t have enough money.  So he did what he knew…what his crackhead mother taught him..what he sees around him six days out of seven.   He bought a little dope.  And he went to school to sell it.  “I just did what everybody else does!”, he told me.  Except he got busted.  He had ten bags of dope.  And he’s 17.  And he has priors. So they bumped him up to adult court and charged him as an adult with possession with the intent to distribute.  He can’t afford a good lawyer.  He doesn’t understand that it isn’t a small thing.  He’s going to go away for a long time.  And I can’t stop it.  It’s too late.  He just wanted some shoes and because I wasn’t with him that day…no one with better options had time to be with him that day…he did what he knew.  Now he’s done. Gone. Lost. Do you really think you have all the time in world? That’s what the darkness wants you to think.  That’s all it needs you to think to give it enough time to swallow up a few more young people.  People that don’t know these kids or kids like these kids probably still don’t get it.   But we know these kids.  We know these kids…

You don’t have to know what you’re doing.  Hell, I’ve been doing this for 12 years and I still don’t know what I’m doing.  You just have to care more about the possibility of reaching one child than you do about being uncomfortable in reaching out.  We can live with failing if we tried with all our might and resources and life’s breath and failed anyway. That happens to us all the time.  It happened here in these cases.  But to fail because we were uncomfortable with trying? …because we were afraid to try? THAT will echo deep into eternity.  THAT would haunt our dreams forever. Jesus Christ is running into your church every Sunday…and every other day of the week, too…and telling you that his children are trapped and suffering and are going to die if you don’t help him to reach them.  I live in the hope that we will all one day come to understand just how urgent that message really is.

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