“Throw in your lot with us,
I once went to the funeral of a good lady who had left behind four children. I knew her oldest son, but I hadn’t seen him for at least ten years. I remember his exuberance as a child and the pride his mother felt when seeing the good example he was to his younger siblings. Dad had broken up their home, and he had suddenly become “the man of the house.”
Those ten years had obviously taken their toll – at the funeral he was accompanied by members of the gang that he had joined. They were not shy, they displayed their motorcycles and their gang insignia for all the world to see. When away from the others he greeted me warmly and spoke tenderly of his mother. You would not have known that he had “Thrown in his lot with those who do harm.”
The average person does not wake up one day and decide to join a gang of thieves, thugs, and drug traffickers (to name but a few of their crimes). Young men who join such groups are looking for camaraderie and a sense of purpose. But being young and naïve, they never stop to think that they will likely join their compatriots in prison one day. It’s a recipe for a life of waste and bitterness.
I know that his story doesn’t have to end in despair; he can change. We can only pray that this Prodigal Son comes to his senses and finds Jesus.
This experience has made me try even harder to include the young in our church activities. Though this young man did not attend our congregation, I have no doubt that he would have been better off if he had.
But it also makes me reflect on my own heart and soul. I too must question what sinners I have allowed to entice me. They may not ride motorcycles, wear gang insignia, and commit crimes, but they may be just as real.
“How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9).