Today may have been the most emotionally exhausting days of any CIY conference I’ve been to. It was a great day, but there has been a lot of heartbreak to pile up and sort through as we seek the face of our King here this week. The focus today was on God as our Father. Not a distant disconnected father just waiting for us to mess up, but a Daddy bringing His kids home again. It’s impossible to have that discussion without talking about the issue of fatherlessness in our world today.
Millions of kids are growing up without their dads. And many more are living with dads that are there but aren’t really present for their lives. In a group of about a thousand teens, there are a lot of wounds that have been inflicted on these young lives in the absence of fathers. Just in our own group we have the full spectrum of relationships with fathers, from “My dad is awesome.” to “I don’t know my dad at all, I’ve only seen him a couple times.”
The day opened with Matthew 5-7, where God’s fatherhood is a central idea. (The whole week will revolve around these chapters.) A film that was put together by CIY and Jonathan Sowers of The Mentoring Project highlighted some of the results of fatherlessness in our society today and shared some stories of how God is healing the devastation.
It’s late, so to keep things short… words like mentor, foster, & adopt need to become more integral in our working vocabulary. If the church wants to share the love of God with people who don’t feel loved by God or anyone else, these words need to become more than theoretical actions that some agency should be taking care of. You are that agency, church. It is God who “sets the orphans in families.” And it is His people that should be on the frontline of this battle for the souls of a generation growing up without dads.
The afternoon was pretty physically tiring, too for a few of us that decided to go hike up a (sort of) nearby ridge. Once you’ve gone a certain distance… you have to keep going until you’re at the top, right? It wouldn’t have been so bad, except I had to keep telling the fast kid to slow down. Admittedly, this was not for the sake of the less agile kids, but for the sake of the aging youth pastor sucking a little high altitude wind!
Josh Finklea did a great job speaking at the evening session tonight. His challenge was to trust our Father. It’s not always easy, but definitely necessary for living the life He calls us to live.