vulnerableBy Brien Bell

There’s nothing more unnerving than the realization that your home has been burglarized.

I’ve had the misfortune of this realization on more than one occasion; in fact as I sit here now I’ve been dealing with the aftermath of that very stark reminder that I am not safe. Things that once belonged to me no longer do. Coming home to this was not the news I wanted, and I was discouraged. I felt vulnerable, and it frightened me.

In youth ministry, we often talk about vulnerability. It’s especially true as we deal with our kids entering high school and learning to be open to the changes to come. We ask them to be vulnerable, to let God work, to explore this process of making oneself open to things that challenge or change us.

And yet, in so many parts of our lives, vulnerability is characterized as dangerous. In fact, the act of being vulnerable is one of that means we’re ‘capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt.’ Why would we want that of our kids? Aren’t we supposed to encourage them, to build them up? Isn’t the Word of God meant to empower them? Isn’t God’s love and strength meant to “heal the brokenhearted” and “bind… their wounds” (Psalm 147:3)?

Perhaps my lesson in being burglarized is exactly the kind of vulnerability we’re called to in God’s kingdom? If I think about it, those things — impermanent objects, possessions entrusted to me by God for a time — were never really ‘mine’ to begin with, and that understanding only came once I was open to hear God’s call. I was hurt by this invasion of property, but made stronger by recognizing that God is so much bigger than my things, and so much safer than my “home.”

These are things I want my youth to be open to. Sometimes we let God enter our lives willingly; sometimes He breaks into our lives “like a thief in the night”(1 Thessalonians 5:2) and we are changed forever. I want my kids, and everyone I know, to be vulnerable to how God makes himself known to us, and changes how we view our world. And that’s not something to be frightened of; in fact, it might be the best news we’ll ever receive.