For many of us those early teen years were difficult. I remember being a Christian without that necessary “friend” support. Not in school. Not even at church. Truthfully, the kids in my Sunday school class were often worse than the kids from school, and that hurt more.
I’d always been a reader and found kinship with characters in books from Trixie Belden to Nancy Drew, but the faith element was missing. And that was the element I hungered for. I needed a friend, either in real life or in literature, who shared my faith, who could relate to me on a deeper, spiritual level.
It was a lonely time.
And then when I was thirteen I received a short novel from my pastor for Christmas, and it opened my eyes to a new world of literature. Behold a Pale Horse by Joe Musser won’t win any literary awards, and I won’t get into an theological discussion regarding its eschatology lessons, but it did show me that there were stories out there with people like me. Other Christians dealing with life. I wasn’t alone.
Then I discovered the Christian bookstore in a nearby town and I began devouring the books in the YA section. The Danny Orlis series by Bernard Palmer were Hardy Boy-like stories that had Christian teens solving mysteries. I graduated to the books by John Benton–these were gritty stories about teen runaways and prostitutes, and they dealt with teen pregnancy and mental illness. No topic was off-limits as Benton’s books portrayed lives that were truly lonely. Until God scooped them up from their low places.
And those stories taught me that I am never alone.
At the BibleGateway.com site, I searched for the phrase “I am with you” (NIV) and came up with 21 verses. That’s twenty-one times God is reminding us “Don’t be afraid, I am with you.” Even when we have those moments when we can’t hear His voice, He is with us. Even when everything seems to be going wrong, He is with us. And when you feel you have no friends, Jesus is there.
We are never alone–it took a simple, nondescript book to help me realize that.
“Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit…”