Josh and I have been doing youth ministry for a billion years….wait..more like since we were married almost 15 years ago. For most of you that is a feather in the wind but it has been a fabulous run with teens for us. For the first 10 years we didn’t have Anna, so Josh and I were a ministry power house…a super team for the UMC church. I was the lay leader, co-lead bible studies, co-directed youth ministry, sat on or just attended most committees in the UMC church, had dinner with the pastor and his wife approx. 3-4 nights per week, had a full time job in neurology/sleep center, and was a wife. Sometimes I sprinkled my time with other family and friends. Josh pretty much had the same lifestyle as I did because we were always together. What a blast we had…didn’t we honey? I get tired just reading that crazy busy schedule now but we did a lot of ministry and I learned a TON of stuff. I learned that if the devil can’t make you bad…he makes you busy. I learned how to talk to teens and how to relate to them. I learned that talking about Jesus is not a cookie cutter job…it takes some creativity, finesse and sensivity. I learned how not to judge teens on their decisions and their mistakes. This is the best time in their lives to make those mistakes. They have a core support system to help them through the tough stuff. All teens have tough stuff….some situations are tougher than others but I have learned that it is all tough in their eyes. It is all a matter of perspective…which most of them don’t have. Their core supports should be parents, teachers, counselors, friends, youth directors, neighbors, church members, ect. Not all kids have all these people but all kids have someone. If you are that person for a teen…thank you…they need you. When I was praying about this message lots of thoughts came to mind. I wondered what Jesus was like as a teen. The bible tells us He is the perfect man. He made no mistakes…I find it fascinating that a teen made no mistakes. I wondered if he was tempted in those years. How he handled it. How did he learn? Who taught him? Wouldn’t he know everything because He is God? So I went on a search. In our lesson today Luke 2..41 Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. He is with his parents for the most part. He is 12 at this time and in those days he was practically an adult so he didn’t spend as much time with his parents as the younger kids did. Also, when they traveled the woman and children were more towards the front the caravans and the men in the back and since Jesus was almost a man he could have been in either place. So his parents probably thought he was with the other. After a day of traveling they noticed he wasn’t with them and they went back but it took 3 days to find him. So a total of 4 days without his parents. If I were him…I would be in deep serious trouble! Then another thought cropped up..A cell phone would have been incredibly handy at that point. So he wasn’t in trouble at all…his parents were astonished at his wisdom and so were the people of the temple courts. My foot notes say that Mary was frantically looking for a boy but she found her boy as a man…the Messiah. If that were Anna…I would have grabbed her by the scuff of her neck…oh probably not….I would have burst into tears. My foot notes also say this is the first awareness that Jesus had that he is God’s Son. I found that interesting also. So..more questions pop in my mind…according to that then Jesus didn’t know he was the Messiah…so he did have to learn from other people. He was God in the flesh but Jesus wasn’t aware of that. That is really the end of that day. His parents find him and Mary treasures all these things in her heart. It doesn’t say that Jesus returned to their home in the scripture. It just says that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. In my foot notes it says he does return home with Mary and Joseph and they raised him like any other child in their family. It says he helped with the family business of carpentry and he was the oldest child in their family. It also says that Joseph probably died in that time frame of the lost 18 years. Think about 18 years of your life. That’s a long time but probably flew by. One of the best pieces of advice that I received when Anna was born was “the days are long but the years are short”. That is the truth. I did some other research on these lost 18 years and I want to say a disclaimer here…I don’t believe everything I read but these books are good to mention and I liked the sections that I found on the internet. Also I like to hear or read other peoples opinions on the matter. The Lost Years of Jesus by Elizabeth Clare Prophet and The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ by Nicholas Notovitch. Both of these books claim that Jesus spent those 18 years studying, meditating, learning, praying, preaching in Persia, Tibet and India. That he traveled during those years to mostly learn. I won’t get too deep into that because it is not in the bible that he did it. I will say that it is very interesting to learn that there is documentation in the Tibetan community of Jesus being there. What a neat “claim to fame” writing on the wall…like Jesus took a black sharpie and wrote his name on the underside of a bunk bed indicating “I was here”. I don’t mean to make light of those authors research or their books. I am actually glad that God didn’t include Jesus’s teen years in the bible. Even though we think this…we don’t have to know everything. I know it says that he was perfect…but I wouldn’t want all my teen mistakes, tantrums, trials, misguided shenanigans or anything else that I didn’t want public to come out in a book that over 2000 years later people are still reading about it. I am glad he had some privacy to “figure it all out”. I am glad he was able to slow down and take it all in. I picture his teen years making furniture, traveling the land, wrestling with his brothers, swimming in creeks or rivers, making sand castles or tunnels, ect. There is a reason that those 18 years were left out. I don’t mean to leave out the youth in this message. I have directed my message to adults but now I want to say a few things directly to our youth. I have learned a lot. You have teach me so much. My life is fuller and richer being your leader. As much as it hurts parents, teachers, counselors, church members…we need you to grow up…and we need to let you…..make mistakes and learn from them. We need you to take responsibility for your actions and reactions to issues that you find breathless. We need you to love people and love God and seek His will and make Him known in your life. Please understand that these years are tough and no one is writing it down in a book. No one is tallying your mistakes or your questions. Try and rely on your core people for support and seek us out. In the beginning of this message I told you how busy my life was before Anna and sometimes that business shifts….like when you have a child. Jesus was back in the text when he was about 30 years old and began his ministry on the books so to speak. I think by that standard….I am reminded that I am just getting started…Pray with me.
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On a lifelong journey of seeking to live out God's call on my life and to reflect His grace.
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