By Jessica Belwood

"Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." Hebrews 5:13-14
When my little son was born, he was utterly dependent on me from the moment he left his protective womb. He would cry for milk every two hours. He wouldn't be able to survive without his mother for few days (well, now there are formulas for babies so technically this is possible now).
When babies are born, the essential nurtient they need to survive is the milk. Every few hours, milk is given to them. When the babies' age reach 6 months, solids are usually incorporated into their diet. Finally, at age one, babies are no longer dependent on milk for their survival. But if solids were never introduced, a point will arrive when milk is no longer sufficient to sustain them. Their bodies would have grown so quickly and will require more calories and nurtients that milk can no longer provide. If babies are never introduced to solids, they will eventually die. There is a condition called, "failure to thrive". It's when a person's weight or rate of weight gain falls significantly, and their growth is stunted. They may withdraw emotionally, lose weight and their condition declines until they receive what they need emotionally or physically.
My goal for my son is to teach him independence. Little Matthew Junior depends on me for milk right now, but in few months he will begin eating solids. Later, he will begin feeding himself with his own hands. Hopefully, he would start washing his own dirty dishes and cups. Finally, in only a mother's dream, Matthew Junior would begin cooking gourment meals for his mother who had worked so hard to nurture him. Kidding aside, teaching him independence is critical for his life. If he never learns independence, he will not be able to survive without his mother.
The same is true for teenagers. Our goal is to walk alongside them for a short time, and then encourage them to take their first wobbly steps on their own in their relationship with Christ. If it's a success, the teenager will be able to mature in their relationship with Christ and bloom when he becomes an adult.
Every year at summer camps, we celebrate when our teenagers accepts Christ in their hearts. There is exponential growth in the teenager's interest in the Bible and knowing Jesus. They depend on us to lead them deeper into their walk with Jesus. But the excitement soon wanes, and the teenager may become bored or frustrated, or even overly dependent on someone in their relationship with Jesus. If the teenager stagnates, they could "fail to thrive" and die spiritually.
A teenager that I work with accepted Christ for the first time last summer at Eagle Rock. We celebrated the birth of a new soul in Christ. We fed and taught her "milk", the gospel of Jesus. Then when school began, we took her to church every time we went, teaching her how to "walk". Several months later, she texted me and told me that she loved to play on her guitar, and sing "A Teenager's Prayer" song to God on her own. I was deeply moved- she just took a significant step ON HER OWN in her relationship with Jesus! I pray and hope that she will continue her wonderful rate of growth. She is absolutely thriving.
May we celebrate the beautiful births of souls in our work with teenagers,  be consistent in our teachings, and rejoice when they walk on their own. May the teenagers thrive and glorify God in everything they do. AMEN
Comments? Email Jessica Belwood

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