Finding The Courage To "Step Out Of The Boat"
[ym360 NOTE: We recently had a youth worker ask a question on the ym360 Facebook wall about what percentage of students in our youth worker's youth groups were not saved. Most of the youth workers who answered responded with numbers ranging from a low percentage to a significant one. No one responded with "zero." In light of these responses, we think ym360 contributor Heather Johnson's post is pretty timely.]
What keeps you from pursuing those students in your youth ministry who need Christ the most? Maybe it's that tough student who has little or no support network. Or maybe it's the confident student who demonstrates no real need for Christ. Whatever the case may be, there are students in our youth ministries who are separated from Christ. Why do we often miss opportunities to reach out to them?
I recently read the book A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot on the life of missionary, Amy Carmichael. Carmichael was an Irish-born missionary who overcame significant physical ailments to make a tremendous Kingdom impact, first in Ireland, and ultimately in India. Stories abound of Carmichael traveling long distances in harsh conditions to save individual little girls from a life of forced prostitution in India's Hindu shrines. Carmichael was quite literally willing to share the Gospel at all costs. After reading the account of Peter in Matthew 14:22-33, Carmichael once prayed:
"Lord, bid me come to Thee from any boat, on any water, only teach me how to walk on the sea."
As youth workers, we can learn a lot from her example. Aren't there days when you feel like you want to walk on water, yet you have no real idea how to get started? You see the needs around you. You know who is hurting. You know who needs to know the saving grace that Christ can give. But you feel so inadequate to the task. You've felt like this, right? Haven't we all had days where we feel like our skill-set simply doesn't cut it? We feel like students' problems are bigger than our strength. We want to be obedient. We want, in Carmichael's words, to "walk on the sea."
But we can be so hesitant at times to take the first step out of the boat. Yet, we know that God has provided us with the means to obey. In Scripture we see both the prescribed manner in which we must "walk," and numerous examples of how it is done, none more powerful than Christ's. We know from the Bible that God will give us exactly what we need, when we need it. We have to trust. And we have to act out of this trust.
I am learning to have total confidence that it is God who is setting me up with these divine appointments. I am learning to trust that God has led me to specific students and their needs, and that I am part of His solution in that moment. It is He who will guide me through these moments. What an incredible feeling of peace this type of confidence and dependence brings! For me, it sure takes the pressure off in so many ways . . . My prayer for you and myself and today comes from Ephesians 3:14-21. I pray that as we minister to this generation, we know we are "filled with the fullness of God," because He, "is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think."