I tried to avoid social media last week.
It was Spring Break for my high school friends and the few tweets I've read and posts I've seen have broken my heart. It seems everything we've talked about in Campaigners this year just got thrown out the window...
...of a jeep
...while speeding down the strip at Myrtle Beach
...along with a bottle of Absolut Vodka.
How do we respond when our high school friends make choices we know they're going to regret? What do we do when it seems like they're falling apart?
Twenty-five hundred years ago there lived a man named Nehemiah. His very name means "Jehovah comforts." He too was saddened over the lives of his friends. This is how he responded:
"When I heard they were in bad shape, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God-of-Heaven.
I said, "God-of-Heaven, the great and awesome God, loyal to his covenant and faithful to those who love him and obey his commands:
Look at me, listen to me. Pay attention to this prayer of your servant that I'm praying day and night in intercession for your servants, the People of Israel, confessing the sins of the People of Israel. And I'm including myself, I and my ancestors, among those who have sinned against you.
"We've treated you like dirt: We haven't done what you told us, haven't followed your commands, and haven't respected the decisions you gave to Moses your servant. All the same, remember the warning you posted to your servant Moses: 'If you betray me, I'll scatter you to the four winds, but if you come back to me and do what I tell you, I'll gather up all these scattered peoples from wherever they ended up and put them back in the place I chose to mark with my Name.'
"Well, there they are—your servants, your people whom you so powerfully and impressively redeemed. O Master, listen to me, listen to your servant's prayer—and yes, to all your servants who delight in honoring you—and make me successful today so that I get what I want from the king."
Nehemiah 1:1-11 (The Message)
I've never mourned for days, fasting and praying over my high school friends.
When I first read the story of Young Life founder, Jim Rayburn, "Dance, Children, Dance," I was struck by how often he went away to pray. Rayburn prayed for hours and hours, often through the night, interceding on behalf of kids. It reminded me of another man who prayed at night, one who prayed so hard he sweated blood.
I wonder what would happen at our middle and high schools if our Young Life teams prayed like that?
Almighty God of heaven and earth, give us the boldness of Nehemiah. Give us even the very desire to pray. We pray for our middle and high school friends, and include ourselves among those who have sinned against you. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.