What if there was a different story?
What if there was a different way?
A few weeks ago, these questions were running through my mind as I was reluctantly running in downtown Chattanooga on a Friday night. Let me set the scene - It was beautiful. Spring in Chattanooga is breathtaking. Yet, it wasn't the scenery that was taking my breath. It was the fact that I was running. While I used to run the circut of half-marathons, I just hate to run. I am a reluctant runner. I only run when I need a "rest" day from lifting. I felt and probably looked like I was dying. There were, however, a ton of beautiful people. Running through the park, there were hordes of tuxedos. There were limos, horse-drawn carriages, and lines of eager parents taking pictures at every stop along my scenic route downtown. It must mean one thing - prom season. You could almost breathe in the anticipation and excitement. There was the typical duo that dressed in the Dumb and Dumber tuxedos. There were puffy princess gowns. too. Overall, however, everyone looked fantastic. Once I got to a certain mile, I decided that I needed an excuse to stop. I got to my finish line - where the Walnut Street Bridge and Hunter Art Museum meet at the glass bridge. I just had to stop. No, really. I had to stop. As I caught my breath and acted like it was perfectly normal for me to stop in nasty workout clothes while everyone was taking pictures of kids being dressed up for prom, a verse ran through my mind
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth Psalm 71:5
A short story of all of those markings - marking the text helps you to observe what is going on in Scripture. While a lot of people mark their Bibles up with colored pencils, I like to use electronic markings as well. It just helps you to slow down and process what you're reading in the text. Each time there is a mark, there is something to learn about God or what He does. Short version of it all from Psalm 71 - God rescues. He is a refuge, a safe place. He saves. As a result, the author says, "He is my hope, I will actively hope in Him." He continues, "Since He is my trust, I will actively trust in Him."
Then, this last phase in verse five just hits me - " ...from my youth."
As I stood there, outside of the Hunter Art Museum, looking over the sea of high school juniors and seniors, I couldn't help but think, "What if this was their story - You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth." What if Jesus was their hope even during prom? Now, I know there were some fantastic, Jesus-following children of God in those crowds. However, I couldn't help but think about what prom means for most high school students in America. Back in my day of high school in the late 90's, prom was often the rite of passage. I thought through some of these scenarios and then read up on them when I got home.
* Car accidents are the number one cause of death among students ages 12-19. Roughly 1/3 of all teen, alcohol-related car fatalities happen between the months of April and June - prom season. Annually, there is an average of 300 fatalities during prom weekends.
* The use of alcohol and drugs is the norm, often experimented with for the first time during prom. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 49% of teens that they surveyed were pressured to abuse alcohol or drugs during prom. Research done by Chrysler has the number as high as 75%.
* 1 in 5 high school girls is the victim of sexual assault according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. One caveat, those are on reported sexual assaults, so most experts think the number is more like 1 in 3. Adding expectation with drug and alcohol use during prom is a dangerous cocktail.
What if there was a different story?
I haven't been to prom since I was a high school educator ten years ago. It was bad then and facebook and Iphones were just on the scene. I know things have gotten worse. I don't want to create fear. I don't want to make parents lock their kids away in a convent, but I do want to communicate that I know there are teens that have different stories. In fact, I want to take the next few blog posts to let you know of some different ways that God is getting a grip on some kiddos, teenagers, and college students.
I want to show you that there is a different way.
There is a different story.
Yes, it is pretty bad out there in the halls of American high-school. Yes, be glad that you didn't grow up with Instagram and SnapChat, having all of your poor decisions documented for all to see. In order to allow hope to spring up in you, I want to introduce you to some folks that have their Lord as their hope, their trust, and their refuge. I am pumped because I get to spend the Summer with them. I get to hear their stories. I get to see them encounter a different way. For some, I get a front row seat in seeing God orchestrate resurrection into their story! It is what he did in mine when I was their age!
In less than a month, several hundred teenagers will be coming to the campus of Precept Ministries International for our EQUIP Boot Camps. Boot Camp holds a special place in my heart - it is where Jesus saved me when I was 17 after I had been to my fair share of proms. God woke me up. God raised the dead in my life, though I thought I was a child of God and new how to play the Christian youth-group, Christian school game. At Precept's Boot Camp, students encounter God through His Word. They're introduced to a tool - Precept's Inductive Bible Study Method - that helps them dive into God's Word for themselves. They are given space for the Spirit of God to use the Word of God in their lives. It is absolutely fantastic.
Do you know a 14-18 year old that doesn't have their Summer plans lined up yet?
Do you want them to have a different story too? Do you want them to experience a different way? Then pray. Ask the Lord to get them to Precept's Boot Camp. After you pray, determine how the Lord wants to use you to make it happen. Then get them to apply!