Today has been encouraging. That event I blogged about last week? The one where I was proud of my team? The one where we were hoping to introduce young people to employers? It worked. And the fruit it started to come.
I’m fresh out of an update meeting with my team and they are telling me story after story after story of interviews-set-up, work-placements-arranged, and employment-gained. It’s exciting. It reminds us of our belief in the potential of the young people we work with. It gives us a renewed focus on our job and why it is significant.
It makes us undistracted. In our pursuit.
And when I look at the young people who often walk through the doors of my project, it can often seem a bit bleak. Many of them have pretty huge barriers on paper. They may have made some mistakes, or have dealt with things in the wrong way. Criminal records, lack of confidence, no qualifications. Young mums, alcohol addictions, drug use. Anxiety, prison sentence, care leaver. These are some of the labels that these young people have been given. Some of the labels they identify themselves by. And some of the labels that we have to work to help them break off, live free from and move past.
Because when you are undistracted in your pursuit, you realise that what you were isn’t what you are. And it’s what you are and who you will be that’s important.
Which is why when I see these young people gaining and keeping jobs and turning their lives around, I just brim with emotion.
But I can’t help but make comparisons to faith.
Of our purpose in God.
Of what it is that He’s looking for.
In Matthew 22 Jesus anounces, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. ‘And love your neighbour as yourself’
And I am left thinking of this undistracted pursuit.
What would it look like if we were to grasp His purpose for our lives? To really comprehend it? To love God with a whole heart, an entire soul and a complete mind?
Remarkable stories often start from seemingly overcast beginnings. A bit like when my young people walk through the door. Take Moses, the exiled murderer who returned to save the nation; David, the shepherd boy who became king; or Mary, the reputation-tarnished peasant girl who gave birth to the world’s Saviour. Take the woman at the well who Jesus used to bring revelation to her entire town. Take the man born blind who was healed to show the spiritual blindness of the pharisees. Ordinary run-of-the-will people who seemed pretty purposeless until they caught a glimpse of what God was after.
Take a dark world, so dark that all seemed lost, so small that it almost seemed forgotten, until God Himself put on flesh and the Light walked among us and showed us that He is seeking our love and our everything. That God longs to be close to us. That He has given everything to be intimate with us.
We can sometimes feel overwhelmed by life’s nightfall, but chapter 1 of John promises us that ‘the Light shines in the darkness’. Jesus Christ can pierce through cavernous sadness or penetrate the most formidable prison.
We read that the darkness has neither understood nor overcome the light. Sometimes circumstances seem pitch black, but we must never lose faith in the goodness of Jesus. He is the revealer of purpose and the end of the story. We can’t doubt in the dark what we knew to be true in the light.
I love the way John starts his Gosepl by taking us on a journey of who Jesus is, because we find our purpose in this reality. We are reminded that He is our Creator, the Word who spoke the world into being; that He put on flesh and stepped onto our tiny little planet to dwell among us. That He sacrificed His life for us and conquered the power of the grace. Jesus showed all grace and truth. He is all grace and truth. He is God; doing everything to be close to us so that we can respond in the way that He calls us to. He makes a way where there seems to be no way.
And He wants to be our undistracted pursuit.
So that just like my young people can see past their labels and their failures, to their future and their purpose… So can we. We can look past all we are, and know that He is greater and stronger and bigger than all that. And know that our purpose on this side of eternity and the next is pleasing and pursuing His heart.