Estimated reading time: 5 minutes:-)
Last Wednesday, I went to my last youth group.
A lot of high schoolers leave during senior year or before, but I chose to stick it out through the end of the summer because I felt like I could help by being there. And I’m glad I did.
For a lot of reasons, at the beginning of summer, I was frustrated. I felt like God wanted me to stay in youth group even though I was the only senior left. But a lot of circumstances made it hard to keep going. I didn’t have many friends there anymore, so if one or two of them were gone I felt like I didn’t belong there. The culture of the youth group shifted as more middle schoolers came and more high schoolers left. Discussions weren’t as deep. All that’s to say: I was ready to move on.
But I knew God wanted me to stay. Stay for my friends who still do go, stay so I could lead the middle schoolers and lift them up. And turns out, God knew what He was doing (per usual:).
Anyway, last Wednesday, we had a summer finale with outside worship and a fire pit and 9-square. During worship, we all gathered together to sing under a smoky sky. I told myself I wouldn’t cry on the way to church earlier, but as we started singing, I couldn’t stop myself.
Because as I looked out across the mob of middle schoolers in trendy clothing, I saw myself 4 years ago.
I won’t get into details because it is so much, but I’ve been through a lot in youth group. And that’s not to say a lot of rough things have happened to me at youth group, but rather all the emotions of my struggles over the years have culminated in the youth room at my church.
There were days I couldn’t wait to get to youth group. There were days I begged my parents to drive me there. There were days I had other people pick me up and take me. There were days I had to drag myself to youth group. There were days I went alone. There were days I cried the whole way home. There were days I praised God the whole way home.
And looking out across all those middle schoolers, I thought to myself, they have all that ahead of them. They’re going to go through heartbreak and pain and hardship just like me. It’s going to be hard for them, just like it was for me.
But just as I had that thought, we started singing a new song. It was “Build My Life,” one of my favorites. And I let the words sink into me as the tears filled my eyes.
“Holy, there is no one like You
There is none beside You
Open up my eyes in wonder
Show me who You are and fill me
With Your heart and lead me
In your love to those around me.”
All this time, God was showing me who He is.
All this time, He was teaching me to lean on Him and trust in Him when everything was hard.
All this time, He was filling me with His love and letting it pour out of my broken heart to those around me.
And all this time He took care of me. So I knew He would take care of all those middle schoolers the same.
I know this message might seem cliche or jaded, but it can’t be said enough: God is good. Don’t just read that. Let it sink in. Let it roll over everything that’s happened in your life. Let it fill all the empty gaps and unanswered questions. God is good. He was good when that thing happened. He was good after. He was good before. He’s good today, was yesterday, will be tomorrow. He will be good for the rest of forever.
He deserves praise even when we don’t understand what He’s doing. He deserves praise even when what’s going on in your life right now seems evil. He deserves praise even when you have a splitting headache, or when your heart is in pieces, or when you can’t stop crying. He deserves praise even then.
He is God.
All those years in youth group, I tried to wrestle down what God was doing in my life. For a while, it all made sense. For a while it didn’t. But whether things were going according to my plan or not, I begged God to show me what He was doing.
But here’s the thing: I don’t deserve to know what God is doing. Sometimes He shows me, and that is a blessing. But I don’t deserve to know.
I don’t deserve anything. But God deserves everything.
A weird part of me was afraid for all those middle schoolers that night. I had the sudden urge to run up to them and warn them of what lies ahead, beg them to make good decisions, beg them to put Jesus first like I didn’t.
But the song kept playing, and God quieted my heart. God is good for them, too.
Sometimes, God’s goodness is the only goodness we can cling to. But His goodness will never fail, and it’s the surest thing to trust. Rest in His goodness. God knows what He’s doing, even if you don’t. And that is good enough.
Side note, my little sister Lily wanted to help me with my blog this morning! She drew these pictures of “youth group” for me, so I made sure to include them;-)