I am more and more convinced that many teenagers today struggle with "daddy issues" on one level or another. Over the years, as marriages have continued to implode and families have fractured as a result, I've seen these issues become more and more prevalent in the lives of the teens I minister to across the nation.
A few weeks ago while at a camp called Falls Creek I preached a sermon on daddy issues. My talk was based on Galatians 3:26, "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith..."
On a Tuesday night, in front of thousands of teenagers, I told the story about a young man named Toney who lived a generation ago. I shared how Toney had been zealous for God when he was a teenager and that he joined the army to fight for the United States during the Korean War.
Eventually Toney was taken captive and ended up a prisoner of war. Toney was held captive until after the war was over. In fact he was the very last soldier released as a P.O.W. from the Korean War. So when he came back to America he returned as a celebrated war hero.
But as he settled back into his life in America his spiritual walk deteriorated and his life began to spiral out of control. One day at a party he met a girl named Shirley. They partied. She got pregnant. When he found out he got transferred 2,000 miles away.
Toney died a few years later. The only thing he had left to show for his life was an old Bible he used to preach from, a few rusty medals from the war and a son he never met...me.
Toney was my biological father. I've never seen his face or heard his voice. The only thing I know about him was that he left me and my mom before I was even born.
Did I have daddy issues growing up? Of course. Did it give me ton of baggage to work through as a teenager? Yes.
But don't you dare feel sorry for me because on June 23, 1974 I met a Father who will never leave me or forsake me. That day my daddy issues became conquerable because I met a heavenly Father who's only issue is his love for me.
This is the same Daddy who can solve any daddy issues with any teenager. Whether those teenagers have a dad who died or abandoned them, a dad who is home but isn't really there, an abusive dad or a great dad, the Heavenly Father will hold them tight and never leave them or forsake them (Hebrews 13:5.)
If your teenagers put their faith in Jesus based on his finished work on the cross they are adopted into the family of God once and for all. He will always be there for them because of what his Son did on their behalf when he took their place in death on Calvary and then conquered death once and for all through his resurrection. This is the essence of the Gospel message. This is the reason we have hope and can offer hope to the broken world around us.
It is this message of redemption and adoption that rescued me (and still is rescuing me) from my daddy issues. It is this same message that rescued well over a hundred teenagers that Tuesday night at Falls Creek just a few weeks ago. This message can rescue every one of your teenagers as well.
And, just in case you haven't put your faith in Jesus quite yet, it can rescue you too!