John 4:48 – Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. (KJV)
Just recently, a friend e-mailed me a story which portrayed a riveting example of how what we do to each other, we do also to Christ. It told the story of a professor who invited his students to place a photo of someone they disliked up on the board and throw darts at it. As the darts dug away at the photo and board, another photo was revealed underneath. It was a photo of Christ, and it was clear that wherever the darts had dug away at the first photo, they'd also dug deeply into Christ's.
As I read the part about inviting the student to place the photo for the dart target, I couldn't imagine how someone could choose to do that, but then I was reminded of a young fourteen-year-old Army Cadet who, upon being off-target at first rifle practice, thought of a teacher who was very much disliked, and shot a bulls eye.
The experience so shocked and frightened the young Cadet — thinking that if it was possible on paper, would it not then be possible in person — that the young Cadet refused to have anything further to do with guns or rifles. As a parent, the Cadet would not allow children to play with toy guns, making sure the children learned the significance of such an instrument, and the possible repercussions when playing translates into reality.
I know. I was that Cadet. The feminine form is pronounced Kaydet.
The same day I received my friend's e-mail, there was another shooting of students by a young classmate: two killed; thirteen injured.
My thoughts were that with things even remotely related to religion more and more being eradicated from schools and public places, to see Christ's face behind those whom we hurt, we must first be allowed to be exposed to it. The following day there was a shooting at a Roman Catholic school. This suggests that merely being exposed to Christ doesn't guarantee anything.
With exposure, we must also experience Christ, and we must help others to be exposed to and experience Him as well — by our actions, our listening, our understanding; by being non-judgemental; and by taking people seriously when they are distraught and when they express a desire to seriously harm those whom they feel have harmed them.
We must work with our youth to help them see the signs and wonders; to help them hear the signs and wonders; to help them experience the signs and wonders; to help them become the signs and wonders. How else will they be able to believe in anything — themselves, a future, God?
Prayer: God, grant us whatever it takes — strength, courage, boldness — to nurture our youth in prayer, that they may be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Help us to help them accelerate their self-worth; let us let them know that they matter and that we care. Let us allow them, Lord, to be shown signs and wonders. In your name we pray. Amen.