I just returned from taking 20 high school journalism students to Nashville, TN, for the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention. For the past three years, many of these kids have attended this convention during which time they have been awarded a prestigious place in the list of the top 10 high school newsmagazines in the nation.Last year, in Chicago, they took first place, but this year was different. This year was better. This year they lost!
There were tears, but they did not last long. These 17 and 18-year-olds rallied together and proactively laid each of their talents and their hearts on the table to be examined. The experience seemed surreal to me. These are teenagers that have entitlement issues and pout when they get anything less than what they believe they deserve.However, here they were humbly admitting that they had been too inwardly focused, that they had been too proud to look at how trends were changing and how other schools were changing. They came home, set their pride aside, changed the design of the paper, and raised the bar for the quality of stories being published.
God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. He created man and He created woman. All was good. He was not just in the top 10; He was the top 10. However, when Eve took a bite of the apple it appeared that we lost our standing in God's winner's circle. I was not there, but I know there had to have been tears, just as there have been oceans of tears since that fateful day. Today, my own tears stem from that loss, but God did not pout. He did not throw a fit. Instead, He rallied within the Trinity, and Jesus was sent as our infant Savior. He offered a new way of doing life - a way that is different and risky, new and redemptive.
This month, take time to evaluate what is really important from a perspective of loss. As a group, choose a day to lose what is comfortable and take on what is uncertain. Consider engaging in one or more of the following activities alone or in pairs:
- Spend the morning outside trying to stay warm, and find food without any money.
- Walk everywhere you go for several hours.
- Wash all your clothes at a Laundromat.
- While window-shopping, make a list of what you could give the special people in your life for Christmas if you did not have any money.
During your experience, ask God for insight into the lives of those who intimately know loss, both materialistic and relational. Meet later that day, or at your next small group meeting, to process your experience. Answer the following questions:
- What emotions did you experience?
- When did you feel the most comfortable? Most uncomfortable? Why?
- Who did you meet? What is his or her story? How did his or her story affect you?
- How has this experience changed your attitude about your own life? About the lives of those you met?
- What can you do to ensure that you stay in touch with loss on a daily basis?
End your time together with prayer for those people who are experiencing great loss in their lives.
Small group leaders, encourage your group members to:
- Invite a neighbor over for hot chocolate and cookies.
- Buy something you love (soft socks, perfume, a book, a movie, etc.) and give it to someone else.
- Give a lengthy, detailed thank-you card as a gift.