Though my primary task at our church is youth ministry, and we don’t officially have a college-age ministry (other than a Sunday morning Bible Study), from time to time I’ll have the opportunity to interact with college-age young people, especially those who have spent time with us during middle or high school.
One of the most common reasons that young adults get in touch with me is because they have a desire to “come back” to their faith. It is a reality of youth ministry that many (if not most) of the students we work with will at some point in their late teens or early twenties have a time of “falling away” from their faith practices and Christian community.
This week, after sending a mass invitation over Facebook to an open-mic-share-your-story-night, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with a former student on the topic of “coming back”—both to the living out of her faith and to community. I thought you might benefit from seeing her questions/concerns and then my response. I’ll obviously withhold her name for confidentiality’s sake.
Good luck in your ministry to young people!
Although I would like to tell my story of how I found Christ, I'm scared to admit that I feel I've been falling off the path of God. Lately I feel as though I want to rebel against the word of God. I believe in God as my savior, but I've been feeling as though he's not been listening to me. I feel I have been crying out for help and things haven't been getting any better.
That being said I was wondering if you had any advice or any verses I could read that maybe I could have some reassurance. If you could do that I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks.
Hey -----! Good to hear from you.
It's super-common for young people to have a bit of a "falling away" once they get around the time of junior or senior year in high school and then on into your early 20s. The "falling off the path" and rebellion you're talking about is definitely not spiritually healthy, but don't feel like you're alone or the only one going through something like that. And you're certainly not alone in the feeling of not-being-heard you're talking about. Everyone goes through that, from saints to sinners—it's one of the toughest aspects of our faith (but definitely one that can be overcome)!
I would love to give you some passages to read (at the bottom of this message) and I'm here to talk anytime you would want to pop in to church/youth group/my office/whatever, but let me put something out there for you to think about. I think from what you've said here that you're already leaning into understanding this truth, but let me give it words for you.
There is a HUGE difference between being saved and being surrendered. In other words, it's totally possible to know Jesus as your Savior but never really live for Him like He's your Lord. That may sound all lofty-spiritual-religious or whatever, but it's true. There are so many Christians that get their "ticket to Heaven" and then go on with life as usual, but God has so much more planned for you!
I would challenge you to not only read the verses I've listed for you, but also to meditate on these thoughts:
God has a plan for your life.
You've got to discover that plan by seeking Him (through prayer, reading the Bible, serving others, and being around other Christians).
When you start living out the plan He has for you, then and only then will you really feel ALIVE.
I hope this is helpful. I'll pray for you and I'd love to hear back from you what you think of all this and how things are going over the next few days and weeks.
Talk to you soon,
Check these out:
Jeremiah 29:11 - God DOES have a plan for you!
Psalm 139:1-16 - God knows you more intimately than anyone else...
Matthew 5:1-12 - The Beatitudes. They have always reminded me of what I need to become if I want to be closer to God.
1 John 3:1 - About the Father's great love...
Matthew 14:22-36 - A time when Peter doubted...
Psalm 40:1-3 - About God hearing those who cry out to Him from the depths of despair...
Psalm 51 (the whole thing) - This is my favorite Psalm, written by David who also went through a time of falling away. Really let this one soak in by reading it over and over and over...