The summer holidays are almost coming to an end. We are getting ready for the coming year. Children go to a new group and young people to the next class. Students choose further education, switch their field of study or start a job. These are exciting times of change and challenge for young people: an unfamiliar environment and other classmates or colleagues, but they realize that it is the path to development. At least we hope so ☺
Adults, just like this young generation, face a new season full of exciting opportunities. We can decide to ‘just carry on’ and let our lives take their course. Or, like all those young people, we opt for a challenging year full of adventure and development. And yes, that is accompanied by ambiguities, uncertainty and significant sacrifices, just like with young people. But the yield and results are enormous. Let me explain.
This summer I had the privilege of once again participating in our Royal Adventure weeks as a youth speaker. It is already the 10th summer in which Royal Mission can organize and supervise these teenage weeks for 6 weeks at the De Betteld holiday center. I was allowed to kick off in mid-July with almost 80 teenagers. A fairly quiet week, considering that in the top weeks we have over 200 teenagers and almost 50 leaders participate. This summer, more than 1,000 teenagers and leaders experienced a wonderful week of Royal Adventure.
Take up cross
The theme for week 1 was True love . Very basic with the Great Commandment as the basic text: ‘Love God above all and your neighbor as yourself’. My first speech was logically about loving God. Not just a little, but with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. My Bible passage was from Luke 9. I encouraged the youth to memorize Jesus’ words in verse 23:“Whoever would come after Me must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” .
I compared loving God to my love relationship with Karin, my wife. When we got married we decided to love each other no matter what. That’s more than just a feeling of love or butterflies in your stomach when you’re eating out together or cuddling romantically. The depth of love is also about self-effacement, adapting to others and making sacrifices because you do everything for your partner. Cooking extra once after a long day at work, because you give the other person some rest. Arrange an outing for your wife with friends, while you babysit at home because you know she enjoys it so much. And as you do that for each other, the bond becomes closer, you both blossom and slowly transform into more beautiful people. True love damages your character.
Loving God is not just the warm feeling of a beautiful gathering or the joy you experience when you dance exuberantly in a youth service at De Betteld. At such a moment everything is roses and moonshine. Loving God is a long process that starts with denying yourself. Saying ‘no’ to your own preferences and subordinating them to God’s desires. Jesus then invites you to take up your cross daily, including in the days of the coming school year. That means you want to endure the ‘pain’ to live according to the example of Jesus. That you want to make sacrifices to be with Him and to make Him happy instead of taking yourself as a starting point. And as you do all that, you transform and become more and more like Jesus. By loving God this way, Jesus automatically becomes more visible in and through you.
Do you dare to go for change?
What are you going to do next year? Just let everything take its course and hope that you will occasionally experience the warm feeling of a great sermon or beautiful service? Or will you take a step with conviction into the new school year that the Master offers you? Choose a higher class or a new job in His kingdom. It is an exciting and often uncertain adventure, but there is growth, development and, above all, love on the horizon. Dare to enter a new phase like all those young people and go for depth and change. Will you love God this year?