Yesterday evening, I was reading in Psalm 71 and came to verses 17 and 18:
“O God, You have taught me from my youth, and to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.”
Though one day it may be the old and gray part that resonates the most, at this juncture in life, the words I find most compelling are related to purposefully sharing Jesus with this generation. In these verses, I see a balanced view of living. The Psalmist looks into the past and reviews God’s faithfulness. He embraces life in the present by intentionally declaring God’s attributes to those around him. He also has a vision for the future that extends even beyond the existing generation.
In applying some of these thoughts to the work of Aim Right, I recall the past and am amazed at the provision of the Lord for this ministry. This year has been an especially challenging season with regards to finances, but even in uncertain times, He has shown Himself faithful.
Staff and volunteers gathered Friday evening for a program planning meeting, and how to impact this present generation was central to our discussion. Aim Right’s vision remains to “help youth find direction in life,” and we are blessed with a passionate group of leaders who are excited about advancing that cause.
What does the future hold? Perhaps it is that some who were once ministered to through the programs of Aim Right have matured in their faith and now are assuming leadership roles, sharing Jesus with a new generation of children and youth. I would hope that this process of replication can continue to grow.
I believe it is helpful to have a few reminders around you that life isn’t just about you — things that define how you live in the present and how you view the future. This poem by Martha Snell Nicholson, now in dog-eared form from being tucked away in the pages of my Bible, has been one of those reminders for me. Though the language of the poetry is somewhat dated, the theme of sharing Jesus with children while they are young and impressionable is timeless. Here is Nicholson’s The Bent Twig—
It hurt my heart to see today someone with whom I used to play.
He was a gentle, merry lad, friendly, and easily made glad.
But now the change! The marks of sin were graven deep, without, within.
His body, once so slender and trim, was huge and gross. I looked at him
And wondered when and how and why it came to pass? Why he, not I?
I loved his mother, long since dead; so, thinking of her, I said
What she often used to say, “Jimmy, have you been good today?”
“Not very, I’m afraid,” he said and hastily turned his head.
I think he had not cried for years, but now his eyes were filled with tears.
Suddenly I seemed to see the little boy who used to be,
The small clean lad of yesterday who somehow, somewhere, missed the way,
Bewildered, lost and sad. He had not meant to be so bad—
It somehow “happened.” Then I tried to tell him of the One who died,
Who took on Him the sins of men, to make them pure and clean again.
He listened well to what I said, but he was hardened in the mold.
The twig was bent, the tree inclined, and so his heart and soul and mind
Found it too hard a thing to do. I thought of the young lads who
Are living in the plastic years. Will they, too, know remorse and tears?
I lifted my heart in prayer for little children everywhere.
What tender twigs do you know? What hardened, bent ones? And how does that impact how you live?