I grew up in the concrete jungle of Chicago with all of the stereotypical challenges of life in the big city. Of course, there were many great things about growing up in the city, but also there were fights, loud music, gangs, and trouble that was a normal way of life. Because there were many dangers growing up in the city, it seemed as though I was always looking over my shoulder for any problems that could arise. It is very easy to become distrustful when you are from a big city.
I recall one time my brother and I went to pick up a pizza from the local pizza parlor. We were little guys, no more than eight or nine years old. On our way back home, some local thugs started walking alongside us. Normally the antennae would go up alerting us to trouble, but these guys were smooth. They just walked alongside us making small talk and talking about baseball. The typical dumb little kids that we were, we didn't realize they would soon pull a fast one. As we approached an alley, all of a sudden I felt a fist hit me in the back of the head. As I was falling to the ground ,I felt somebody take the pizza from my hand. Before my brother and I realized what had happened, four young thugs were running down the alley with our pizza.
When I was around six or seven, some teenagers would hang out about two doors down from where I lived. One day one of them called me over, “Hey, Danny, we've got something for you.
I thought to myself, “Wow! These guys want to be my friends.” What a mistake!
As I came to the house, one of them said, “We've got a snack for you.”
“A snack for me!” Boy, these guys were mighty nice young people--yeah, right! They handed me a cracker with peanut butter and jelly. As I put it close to my mouth to eat it, I noticed it smelled unusual. I said, “This doesn't smell like peanut butter.”
They said, “It's a new kind, just out on the market.”
I was just about to go ahead and eat it when something inside of me said, “Don't do it!” I threw it down and ran home as fast as I could. I found out later that those teenagers had gone in their back yard and picked up some dog droppings and smeared them on the cracker. It began to be very difficult for me to trust people as I grew older.
Well, not being trustful may be a good tactic for survival in the city but it can be one of the worst tactics for a Christian in the Christian life. You see, one of the things I believe that the Devil tries to do to so many teenagers is break their “truster.” He would love nothing more than to break your ability to trust. We see this very tactic introduced in the Garden of Eden when the Devil told Eve, “Yea, hath God said?” Or when the Devil said, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened….” Let me paraphrase the Devil: “You can't trust God.”
I've worked with teenagers for many years. During that time I have observed several specific opportunities for their “trusters” to be broken:
1. They allow friends that question authority to influence them. Friends who question authority do nothing more than break your ability to trust.
2. They are hurt by people who are supposed to be their protectors. When you are abused or hurt by someone who is supposed to be your protector, you tend to not trust anybody or not easily give away your trust.
3. They are let down or disillusioned by people they love. Maybe a mother or father walks out on the family. Maybe a parent embarrasses the family with sin. Maybe a teacher we loved decides to quit his job.
4. They are hurt by someone to whom they gave their hearts. Maybe a youth worker to whom you gave your heart makes fun of you behind your back. Perhaps a dating relationship ends in a bad way.
5. Life seems to be falling apart around them. A parent gets sick with cancer. A brother or sister is seriously hurt or killed. A father loses a good paying job.
There are literally dozens of other ways our “truster” gets broken. One of the greatest tools of the Devil is to break your “truster.” Why would the Devil work so hard at breaking your “truster”?
If your “truster” is broken you'll never be able to accomplish God's purpose for your life. One broken component in a car can keep it from its purpose--transporting passengers. One broken piece in a furnace can keep it from fulfilling its purpose--warming a house. One broken “truster” in the life of a young person can keep him from accomplishing God's purpose for his life.
Over the years many things have happened to me that could have potentially broken my “truster.” A passage of scripture that has been special to me over the years has been Proverbs 3:5-7, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.”
Regardless of what comes your way, don't let the Devil break your “truster.” Realize that trusting God and the authorities He has placed in our lives is the only way of finding His purpose for our lives. Guard your “truster”!
Mark 11:22 “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.”
Mr. Danny Mendez is the dean of the Spanish college at Hyles-Anderson College.