“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16
When I was in high school, I was a massive hypocrite. I would carry with myself the label “Christian,” but I was living two very different lives. I was a leader in FCA, a leader in our YoungLife group, I led a Bible study at my church, but on the weekends I would go out with friends and get drunk and party. I would gossip about people behind their backs. I was more concerned with being popular than I was with being faithful.
I am probably forever indebted to a college student who was my Young Life leader at the time. It was one of those weekends where I had gone out on Friday night and drank so much at a party that I had passed out on the ground in some field somewhere. He took me driving in his car. I remember telling him what I had done the night before. Thinking he was going to be ‘totally cool’ with it in light of his own past that he had shared with me, I told him everything. He paused and got really silent.
“Luke, I really think you need to confess this to the Young Life leadership team.”
At first I was taken aback. Why did I need to confess it to more people? Didn’t I just confess it to him? After he dropped me off that night, his words to me bothered me so much that I knew I had to do something about them. Looking back, there is no question in my mind that God was present in that conversation. The next Monday night, after our club meeting, I sat on a couch surrounded by 20 or so college students and student-leaders and confessed what I had done: that I had betrayed everyone there by hurting the reputation of our group and by living without integrity.
That leader’s one suggestion in the car that night led to one of the most transformative and formative moments in my adolescent journey. He pointed me into a direction, he showed me a new way, and he guided me to a new path.
I have worked with teenagers for almost six years now and more than anything the cry of the teenage heart, whether most of them would verbalize it or not is to be shown the way. They long for older men and women to show them ancient paths that have already been walked…paths towards freedom, righteousness, holiness, and maturity. Some are lucky to have parents that do this, but the vast majority are looking for guides to lead them into the coming-of-age wilderness of the teenage and college years. Its not just teenagers, indeed, I think it could be said of all of us… we long to be led and guided by others who have walked the path.
Its funny, the first followers of Jesus weren’t called “Christians.” “Christians” is what the Romans would call them as a mockery (meaning “little Christs”). The very first title we see that’s given to this movement in Acts 9 is “the way.” Christianity is not a set of beliefs to agree to, it is a path to be walked. Passion isn’t taught, its caught. It is a trail, blazed by Jesus, to which we all must be guided, and upon which all who follow him must carry our crosses.
My gut tells me that there is someone reading this whom God is calling to be a guide for someone younger … to lead them into the unknown… to model for them “ancient paths,” to show them “the Way” of Jesus, to invite them into their lives and homes and guide them through the wilderness of adolescence.
There are millions of teens that are wandering, lost and without a guide, victims of broken families and absent fathers, unsure about themselves and their futures, with no one to ascribe to them a new identity, looking to pop culture, their unsure peers for it, or whatever present desire is raging within them to find it…
Will you guide them on ancient trails?
Will you lead them?
Will you lead us?