“And when Jesus said ‘It is finished,’ he didn’t mean that the pain of the cross was finished, but that the work he came to do was finished. And what Jesus did on the cross means that you and I never have to be alone again”
This is not a quote from a famous author or preacher. These are the words of a 19 year-old college student named Annie, one of the Young Life volunteer leaders here in the Capital District area. She delivered them to a roomful of teenagers as part of her talk at a Young Life club meeting a few Monday nights ago. I wish you could have been there. There were 45 or so kids in that room, listening in rapt attention, and when Annie said “we never have to be alone again,” I wanted to get up on my feet and cheer! Here was a young woman whose life has been changed by Jesus, and who has given hours of her time building relationships and trust with the kids in that room. And with eloquence and authority that can only come from Christ, she was putting the truth of God’s love in terms that those teenagers could understand. What a thrill to be a part of that moment!
Although this moment was especially poignant, it was not at all unique. Every day of the week, there are Young Life leaders across our region doing things that would make you want to stand up and cheer. Sometimes it’s showing up at a game or performance to support kids, sometimes it’s taking a young person out for coffee, sometimes it’s planning a skit that will make 45 teenagers double over in laughter, and sometimes it’s telling those same teenagers that because of Jesus, they never have to be alone.
Last week, we had our local area leader and committee Christmas party. Its a great tradition with tremendous food, fun, and singing. Every year at the end of the party, I make a few short remarks–my Christmas message to the team if you will. This year, I read from a favorite book of mine, “The Transforming Friendship” by Leslie Weatherhead. I’d like to share with you part of what I read that night. The author is imagining a “present day” interaction between Jesus and a young woman (keep in mind the book was written in 1928):
It seemed to the girl that he had given her back her youth. For now life seemed suddenly filled with a new and glorious and indomitable hope. It was springtime in her soul. Life had become beautiful and infinitely desirable. Life could never be the same again. Her better self had risen, phoenix-like, above the ashes of the girl who was dead.
And Jesus looked at her with a smile of amazing tenderness. I could not hear, in my dream, all that he said, but has He moved towards the door I heard him say, “And you will never be alone again; every day I am with you.” She held the door for Him, and lingered a moment, half hoping that he would speak again or turn around. But He passed out in silence and was gone. Then, very softly, she closed the door.¹
Jesus came to be with us. Young Life leaders do our best to model this by being with kids, but there are limits to what we can do. In the end, the best we can do is point toward the friend who never leaves us. Pray for our leaders across the region to gain a hearing for that message, and for kids as they learn to trust in the one who raises them to life.
¹Weatherhead, Leslie D. “Prologue.” The Transforming Friendship; a Book about Jesus and Ourselves. New York: Abingdon, 1929. 21. Print.