This title, from a children's musical, reflects a common theme for kids' songs: the search for meaning in an unwelcoming world. Each year, I discover such lyrics through my involvement in Summer Music Camp. The lyrics may not resonate with me, but they do help me to understand the world of young folk. The songs challenge me to view the gospel through a lens that's not my own. Actually, this exercise can help us all in reaching young hearts.
Consider the message in which young people are immersed: Don't look to others for your destiny. You'll never find it by letting yourself get squeezed into the restrictive expectations of family, religion, or social community. Instead, look deep inside yourself. There you will find your destiny and freedom. Follow it!
This theme is reinforced in popular lyrics like these:
- I just wanna be me
'Til the day that I'm free
I'm making no apology
Marching to my own beat
One day I'll know how far I'll go
Around the moon and far beyond the sky
Here, I see a hunger for something far beyond personal, societal, or earthly limitations. Isn't that the very yearning that God satisfies through Christ!
Ephesians 2:6-7 – God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Of course, this grand, God-given destiny remains elusive while we cling to human ties for validation. Jesus warned, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26 NIV) In this respect contemporary values are not far from Jesus's teaching.
I'm convinced that the gospel message is well-suited for our young people. However, that doesn't mean that we older people are! We ourselves may need liberation from the urge to impose our expectations for them, our own religious ways. Also, through our lives, we might tragically be portraying a gospel that is more about restraints than liberty.
In this respect, I see a need for mutual surrender: We let them go of them, as they let go of us. They need freedom to embark on their own rugged journey toward the Father's outstretched arms.
The song "Alone in the Universe" closes with "One small voice in the universe, one true friend in the universe who believes in me."
Well, that "one friend in the universe who believes in me" is Jesus. That's why He came! He came to offer the lonely wanderer a glorious destiny!
Dare we join our Lord and believe in such poor souls, too? Dare we befriend them, express interest in their view of life? Dare we leave their destiny with God? And someday, when their lofty dreams crash, will we have disappeared among the many who simply gave up on them? Or will they still know that we believe in them?
Prayer: Lord, give us Your heart for young people, so that no matter where they search, they will always see a flicker of hope — through our engagement with them. Amen.