1 John 1:5-7
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Here we are again, starting another season of Lent!
This can be a dark season, a time of struggle, but also a time of growth, of learning; a season that can test our love and strengthen our faith…it is also a time when we come together to support each as we journey towards the good news of Easter, as the light comes back into the world after a long, cold winter.
While it may not always be an easy time of year, it is necessary to go through Lent in order to get to Easter, and the hope of the resurrection, the hope of new life!
In many ways, Lent reminds me of the teen-aged years (I know if may seem like a stretch but hear me out), as the teen years can also be a difficult time for everyone: ourselves, our children, and for all those around us (like relatives, friends, teachers, therapists, pastors, law enforcement, etc.).
And like Lent, the tumultuous teen-aged years have a marked beginning: I have come to believe that children lose their minds (for a while) at about the age of 14. I have seen this in my own life, as well a with my daughter and with many of the kids I have taught in Sunday school over the years. At 12 and 13, they can be sensible, well-behaved kids, but sometime during their fourteenth year hormones kick in, just when their freedom increases, and it just overwhelms them!
This is the time of life that is often referred to when we say things like “I was just a dumb kid, and didn’t know what I was doing.” It is also a time when we tend to turn away from the advice that is offered by those who are older and wiser, and in doing so wind up taking more ‘lumps’ for our mistakes. This turning from wisdom is very ironic because it during these teen years that many find themselves ourselves searching for a deeper meaning in their lives, yet it is also a time when we can reject the advice of those closest to us, and can even walk away from our faith!
This season is a time of testing our boundaries, a time of growth and learning, and gives us the ability to let go: helping our children learn how to take care of themselves, giving them the tools to get out of their own, and allowing us to learn how to let go of our children’s hands, as there is so much that about these years that we cannot control, no matter how much we love them! These are not necessarily bad lessons to learn, though learning them can be very painful!
The teen years can also be a time of increased closeness and joy, as we walk with our children through the milestones of life, such as learning to drive, getting a job, excelling at sports, graduations, and even falling in love. If we are lucky our relationship with them will also change in a more positive way (even while they are giving us our share of gray hairs), as we can treat each other more like adults, and gain a rapport that we could not have when they were smaller. They can also help us more, both around the house and in facing all that life throws at us.
It can be both an amazing and a dark time of life, and while it can seem as if these teen years will keep going forever, just as with Lent, there is a light at the end of the tunnel…these years will end!
In time our children will grow up, and (hopefully) their sanity will return as they learn to make better choices in their lives, mostly from making so many mistakes as teens…and when they do come through these years they will find themselves in a new life, with a new outlook, and maybe even a renewed faith! It is not just our children who can grow during these years, as we too can learn just as much from raising teens as they will learn from being teens, for this experience can only strengthen our faith, and the love we share with our children and each other.
However, while we are in the midst of the teen years the light at the end of the tunnel can seem very far away, and there are times when we can never be sure if the light we see is really from an approaching train!! The good news for us today, is that we do not need to be afraid, as we do not go through this tunnel alone, for we walk together in the footsteps of Christ, who is the light of the world…and who leads us through the darkness of our own ‘Lent’ and into the hope of Easter!!
Let Us Pray:
God, thank you for walking with us throughout our lives, both through the Spirit of your love and through the sharing of that love with each other. Please help us seek to rebuild and restore each other as we face the challenges of our lives together…as we each face our own season of Lent as we walk with our children through the often volatile teen years. Let us remember that this too shall pass, that the light that shines in the darkness of the tunnel is your love, given to us all as a gift through Christ, the love that we are called to share together.