What good news I have found today. If you are a late bloomer, never fear. You have hope. I am definitely not talking about anyone’s developmental status, but spiritually you are on the upside. I was slow to commit to this faith thing. Looking back, my spiritual life has been like a collection of scrapbooks done by different people, 25 years of them as a Christian. I definitely look different in all of them; I was, at times, a victim of trends. My spiritual life fell victim to trends and influences. Some of my worst moments came in rebellion to my parents’ faith. I wish that someone had the courage to walk up to me and say…“So, you are basing your entire belief system on not believing anything that anyone of any authority believes…how grown up of you.” I am sure that I would have been very offended, but perhaps I would have stopped being a spiritual teenager for a second, and considered that there are precepts of the faith that are true no matter who believes them, even my parents. I have discovered, however, that I have the same haircut at 34 that I had at 5. This is the only continuity that one might find in the scrapbooks of my life.
My devotionals have looked like an array of trial and errors, many errors. I study the way that makes me happy now, AND, I get so much more out of it. I got a new bible this year and I have this massive set of colored pencils. I underline, make boxes and write notes. You can tell the areas that I have visited, and not. I am actually ashamed of the blank pages. When I am in church and we are visiting one of “those”, I just look at my husband’s bible. I don’t want anyone to know that my new bible has not been completely broken in and covered in color, pharisaical isn’t it? Anyone who cannot dirty up the pages of a book would cringe. I totally love it!
So, I was reading the parable of the two sons. For your viewing pleasure…
Matthew 21:28-32, “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the
This is an example of two spiritual teenagers. Both invited to the same task, both typical teenagers…one says “No”, and probably means it. He is being honest, so you have to respect that. The other says, “Yes”, and does not mean it…maybe didn’t intend to lie, but it ends up that way. All is the same, typical teenage stuff.
So, let’s look at the “Yes”, kid. Jesus is saying to the chief priests and elders that they are like a lying teenager. They are never going to make it saying all of the right things and following all of the right rules. There is no substance to it. They can’t believe that what they are anticipating, the realization of the Messiah could be true. What they have been waiting for is standing in front of them, the Savior of the world, but they don’t have the faith to claim it, to incorporate it. We know these people. Some can quote the bible to you, front to back, but they have no depth. You look for fruit, but instead you find another defensive verse or phrase. Some break your heart because they desire the Savior. They need the freedom of a Savior, but they can’t let go of their past long enough to take His hand. You have to empty those hands to grab on to Jesus, right?
Finally, the other teenager that just says, “No”, but changes his mind…Oooo, the spiritual child takes his faith into his own hands. Now that is exciting. The reason for faith or anti-faith is no longer adherence to rebellion or anything else on this earth. It belongs to him. He can touch it, taste it, and grow it. It is completely his own. This person might be a late-bloomer. Late-bloomers have scars, bumps, bruises. We might look a little awkward, like scrappers, but we love the Lord, with all of our hearts. I think that it is because…with us, he bothered. He bothered to continually go and find that one that got away. He bothered to weep tears for our self-inflicted pain. He bothered to comfort us, even though He knew that this time would be no different and we would walk back into the world and do it all again.
But then, there was that one time. Remember it? It changed everything. He came and sought me out. He found me crying on the bathroom floor, without a hope in the world. He picked me up and said, “Jump”. He took me to the edge of the cliff and told me to leave everything that I held on to behind me, and just jump. It was the best day of my life, scariest but best. Even after that, many scrapbooks have been glued together.
When looking into the lives of the yes or no teenagers, I look for the Spirit at work in people’s lives. I absolutely love a good Jesus story. I love to tell my own. There is something recognizable in that encounter, right? The Spirit isn’t flat. Some of us were raised under “the flat”; it is a hard burden to bear. The “No” kids are no longer flat.
The “Yes” kids, even though they have no interest in an authentic relationship with Jesus, would be offended by the tax collectors and the prostitutes. They are opposed to the possibility of hanging out with the rowdy crowd, the infidels. The “No” kids realize that sin is sin. We are not too proud to admit that we have been there, and need a Savior. We are willing to take our fellow sinners with us on the narrow road. So, go on you late bloomers. You are the children of a holy God.
Father, thank you for your infinite compassion. Thank you for letting us change our minds when we are finally captured by your mercy. Lead us faithfully down the narrow road and show us who you are in new ways.