Each week I have the privilege of spending time with students talking about their lives. We explore the past, the present, and the future. We talk about family, relationships, stress, resources, decisions, and where they are going. In so many ways, we wrestle through their identity in the crucial developmental phase of adolescence where their task is very simple: identity formation. For so many teenagers, the battle is centered around gaining some ground against the lies that have been whispered in their ears by family, friends, teachers, adults, society, and our culture-at-large.
Because, though it is not always apparent, we are dealing with tender hearts. Lies cut deep in the young soul, yearning for answers to the question, “who am I?” All identity formation revolves in some way around that question.
What is so difficult about adolecense is finding a true voice amongst the noise. And, the world is very, very noisy. Where do they find the truth about themselves? For that matter, where do we find the truth about ourselves?
Allen and Trevor have been encouraging me to listen to the sermons of Greg Boyd lately, especially this week (“Waking from Oz”) as he uses an example that we use regularly in our group work at Teen Lifeline. Boyd uses a clip from the end of “The Wizard of Oz” to illuminate his point. Here is the clip:
It happens we use this same clip on our last week of groups to help the students understand that everyone has a strength about them that they can lean into and rely on as they tackle the challenges of life. No one is devoid of strength. And often, the thing that you often think you are lacking the most is actually your greatest strength. It is a paradox and mystery of life that the devil uses against us to hide our greatest treasures, I think.
Because, the Scarecrow actually had the wits to help the group of friends along the way to keep them safe and on the way to the emerald city. The lion possessed the courage to fight off the monkeys and the witch. The tin man rusted himself with his tears, yet he thought he had no heart! They were chasing after something they already had.
Boyd draws the conclusion that everything we need is already right in front of us. That is, when Jesus won it all on the cross, raised again on the third day, and ascended to heaven, it was finished truly. We might seek things deeper or more “spiritual”, but the fact is we already have theses things.
Like the Wizard, Jesus wants us to see that it is all done. He wants us to believe. We don’t have to fix anything. It is already fixed. Our true task is to truly live into the truth that we are sons and daughters of the king and that the table is already set. When the crowds wanted more and more proof that he was who he said he was, this was his response from John 10:24-30:
The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
Simply put, we must believe. We don’t need more signs, better living, a profound theology. I think the biggest battle is truly believing that Jesus really is who he says he his. This isn’t just an intellectual exercise. For the believer, it is taking the reality, and living into it. When we live as folks who are truly free, what power will come through that life!
So today, don’t concern yourself with fixing all the problems in your life. Live into the reality that you are free.
You, my friend, are free.