It was a blow to my life, that I'll never forget as long as I live. It happened on the very first day of my new job as Director of a chapter of Youth For Christ, in a southern Ohio town. I was quietly seated in the rear of a juvenile court watching something happen, I still find hard to believe. Standing before the judge was a mother and father, almost in tears. Between them stood their teenage son, with no idea what is about to happen to him.
I clearly heard the parents both tell the judge to take this; their son and do with him whatever the judge wanted to. Their sorrowful testimony told everyone present, their teen would not mind them in any way. Right in my hearing, these two parents were giving away their own son. It wasn't until years later that I learned just how truly fortunate this teenager, standing between his parents, were.
Of the Ten Commandments presented in stone to Moses on Mt. Sinai, one stands out from the rest in a very special way. The fifth commandment says to honor thy father and thy mother and adds a promise. That promise is,
“that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
The truth of that promise is detailed in a commandment for us in Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Bible. Chapter 21, verses 18 through 21 order a stubborn and rebellious son to be stoned to death. That teenager in juvenile court that day has no idea what his future does or could have in store for him.
An easy to overlook phrase in describing the teenager Jesus, is back in Luke chapter 2, tucked in the middle of verse 51. It tells us, “...and was subject unto them;” Most every adult has tasted the daily struggle of balancing the beginning responsibilities of adulthood with the respect and honor due their parents. It's a skill that demands compassion and love, and remembering our roots. I fully believe this same struggle into adulthood was a part of Jesus' growing years. It figures into his being “tempted in all points, like as we... yet being without sin.”
Drawing life-long lessons in wisdom from our teenage years is not minimized or made trivial by scripture or all of Heaven. God made those searching stretching years a very necessary part of our lives, as He did his own only-begotten son that someday would open the only door needed for us to obtain salvation and all the eternal glory and gifts that come with it.
In prayer, prepare long and hard to show teenagers that to submit to authority. Show them it doesn't make them a second class citizen, but beautifully prepares them to better lead others away from the viscous jaws of sin and its consequences.