This summer, the student authors of the Rooted Student Series give us a taste of the themes we explore in our upcoming book, The Jesus I Wish I Knew in High School. As students either currently in high school, college, or just recently graduated, our writers offer us a fresh and unique perspective of the Jesus they got to know in high school or wish they had known when they were younger. Their stories and their wisdom will help youth leaders and parents guide their students through high school and point them to Jesus. -Rooted Student Series Editor Lauren Center.
Although I grew up in a church-going family, it wasn’t until high school that I really began to learn about God through a Bible study my friend invited me to. When I look back on it now, it was unexpected for God to use a college athlete pouring into her little sister’s soccer team to reach a girl who didn’t even play soccer at the time. Yet, God works in unexpected ways to reach unexpected people. Through Sidney’s Bible studies and preachers at church, I began to learn that as humans, the only thing that will ever satisfy us is God.
After spending freshman year seeking my worth in guys who were far from godly, struggling to find my place in friend groups, and ultimately feeling lost, lacking purpose and joy, I began to seek God the following summer. I reached a point where I didn’t know if it was really true that God is the only one who can satisfy us, but I needed it to be true.
I later found that God had allowed me to feel that purposelessness in order to push me towards seeking him. As God began to fill the hole inside of me, I felt called to start a Bible study with the hope of creating community for anyone else who was feeling the same way I had felt. The decision to seek God, while it was not always easy, was necessary for me to find the purpose to which God has called me.
Despite my fear of public speaking, God had called me, like He calls each of us, to share the good news of the gospel. I had always been the kid who hated and feared presenting in front of the class, so simply leading that Bible study was a huge milestone for me at the time. However, while reading through the Bible I began to learn more about people who were used by God despite their own shortcomings.
Something that I held onto when I felt unqualified was the story of Moses. He was afraid of what God was calling him to because of a speech impediment, but God still wanted to use him despite his flaws. Over the past few years, as God has called me to speak in front of my fellow classmates at FCA and on stage at Wednesday night youth group, I have learned the importance of relying on God and the importance of “doing it afraid”.
Through prayer we learn to lean into God’s strength instead of our own, and through obedience we learn that God’s ability is not dependent on our success.
Ultimately, this idea is rooted in discovering how powerful God really is and where we fit into His plans. While God is fully capable of accomplishing His plans without our help, He wants to use us to bring Him glory. After all, that’s what we were created for.
By partnering with God, not only do we bring Him glory, but we find greater joy knowing that we are a part of something greater than ourselves. Romans 8:11 tells us that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is within us.
While for a long time I struggled with the idea of failure, this verse reminds me that God can use what looks to the world like failure for greater glory. When Jesus died, it seemed to the world like he was not as powerful as he said he was because he didn’t save himself. Yet, this was a part of God’s plan so we could be forgiven for our sins and have eternal life. God’s glory was greater because of Jesus’ humble surrender on the cross. If the same power that raised Christ from the dead–the power that did what was impossible for us and conquered death– is in us, then there truly is nothing that is impossible for God in our lives.
I think as people, but especially as high schoolers, we really just want to feel important. We seek others’ approval, success, and an abundance of worldly things. Yet we find ourselves empty. But when we realize that God is the only one who can satisfy our longings–that He already died for us without our deserving it, that the only prize that really matters is eternity, and that this world is fading away–we are consequently drawn towards His presence knowing that the only way we can find our purpose is by spending time with the One who is most important.
When we realize our worth in God’s eyes, we desire to help others feel the fullness of His love, ultimately considering others more important than ourselves. By doing so, we look more like Jesus. And the more we begin to look like Jesus, the less we care about “feeling important”.
We know how loved we already are, not because of how good we are but because of how good God is, so we simply want to help others feel that love–which is ultimately our purpose in life. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39). While God may use each of us in different ways, our purpose is the same–to glorify God and to show others the same love He has shown us.
Whether you are a youth minister, a parent, or simply someone trying to pour into the lives of high schoolers, I believe that one of the greatest ways you can impact them is by showing them that you care. Then you have the opportunity to share with them how much they really matter in God’s eyes.
Don’t get me wrong, high schoolers are undoubtedly stubborn and probably won’t believe you the first time you try to tell them about God’s love for them and purpose for their lives. However, if you consistently pursue their hearts, it is likely that your actions will speak louder than your words, and then eventually your words might actually break through to their stubborn hearts. The seeds that you plant can have a greater impact than you think and may lead teenagers to find out for themselves if what you said about God is true. And that very well may be the best thing that could ever happen to them. I know it was for me.