Emptiness Is Everywhere
A couple of months ago, my husband and I won a trip to a high-end local resort. We were finally able to slip away this past weekend for two nights of luxurious pampering. Our room overlooked the ocean, and the pool had jumping fountains. It was a real treat.
But more interesting than our lavish accommodations were the conversations we overheard. Our fellow vacationers primarily chatted about the amount of time they spend at work. Others were glued to their phones, discussing million-dollar deals with clients. One very loud woman talked with her friends about going out to party that evening. She laughed about the number of shots they should do. Her friends agreed that their kids were old enough to stay at the hotel alone while they went out that night.
I felt like I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone. My husband and I were surrounded by people wearing $350 bathing suits and spending $40 on sunscreen at the gift shop. In that hotel, where guests emptied their pockets to be pampered and spoiled, I saw people hurting and hungering for Christ.
On the day we checked out, we left our beautiful view but had one final night without our kids. We went to a local restaurant to catch a quick meal, only to discover a bar down the street was throwing an afternoon foam party. We sat there for two hours as bar patrons stumbled past us, their conversations overflowing with sexual innuendoes, cursing, and late afternoon drunkenness. There in the suburbs, people were looking to fill spaces that needed Jesus with something to dull the pain.
After dinner we drove over our familiar potholed streets toward the inner city. My family and I live in an area where we can be neighbors to those around us. About seven blocks from our house, we passed a crime scene covered in police tape and surrounded by cop cars. Later that night, the news revealed that a heated argument had turned violent. One man died.
In a span of six hours, I had an opportunity to interact with the three primary socioeconomic groups of our society: the very rich, the suburban middle class, and those living in inner-city poverty. In each of these places, I witnessed people trying to survive the day and reduce an ache in their souls.
“From resorts to inner cities, emptiness is everywhere.”
It made me think of the families we youth workers serve every day. Each of us ministers to different people from different sections of society. Some of these people hide behind a veneer and appear to have it all together, while others are obviously headed for destruction. But they’re all trying to fill a void with wealth, substances, or violence. From resorts to inner cities, emptiness is everywhere. Do the families you serve know what it means to be loved higher, wider, and deeper than anything they could imagine? Whoever they are, wherever they’re from, each needs to know what it means to belong to Jesus. That’s where you come in.
Do we trust that God loves the parents of our students as much as he loves their kids? When I see adults who have given themselves over to debauchery, I tend to think, At least there is the next generation. I always wonder, however, how the world would change if we saw those parents with compassion. I admit I felt a flash of judgment toward the rich woman in the pool and the partygoers at the bar. I pondered for a second if I would have to undo their damage someday in my youth group.
Then the Lord touched my heart and reminded me that, without him, I would probably make the same choices. In that moment, I needed to see the parents the way the Lord does: with love and compassion. I needed to remember that he longs for each of us—young and old, rich and poor—to be close to him.
What do your students’ families need? What are they filling their lives with instead of Jesus? God will reveal these things to you if you open your eyes to see them the way he does.
About the Author
Leneita Fix co-founded Frontline Urban Resources with Jeffrey Wallace to equip, coach, and speak into the lives of those working with families living in a “survival mode” mentality. They refer to this thinking as the “new urban.” Combined, they carry almost four decades of experience in the family ministry setting, most of it in traditional urban ministry. However each… Read More