二○一九年七月六日／七月七日 Click here for English version
今個月是「放榜月」——IB 國際文憑試、升中派位、DSE 香港中學文憑試相繼在 7 月上旬公佈結果；一般學生在暑假前也會收到成績表，知道自己將會升級還是留級，然後才安心（或不安地）放假。「放榜月」年年如是，學生的學業壓力卻是與年俱增。而少年人的教會生活也往往反映了這實況，他們在崇拜、團契、主日學中的出席率變得不穩定，測考期間或前夕缺席的情況也見明顯。他們即使出席，也顯得很不專注，例如在課堂或分組時不斷撥手機、與鄰座友好交談而無視正在說話的導師或同學等。他們的心聲是：學習壓力很大，回到教會希望可以做自己想做的事。
Let Go! Let God!
Rev Patrick Wong
July is a time for exam result announcements. Results of the IB, secondary school places allocation and HKDSE will be out in the first half of July. School exam results will be available before the summer break. Students will know whether they can be promoted to the next level or not, which to a certain extent affects the mood of their vacation. As the years grow, so does the pressure they feel. This is evident in a change in their church life: they attend worship services, fellowships and Sunday School less regularly, particularly before and during exams. For those who attend, they may not be properly focused: they are engrossed in their mobile phones during Sunday school or small group sessions. They also chat with their neighbors regardless of the counselor or student sharing. They seem to have been subject to a lot of pressure from their studies, and cannot do what they really want to do until they get to the church.
This reminds me of Samson in the Old Testament who was to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb so he could take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines. When he was young, he asked his father and mother to get him a Philistine woman as his wife. When his parents asked why he had chosen a pagan woman, he replied: "Get her for me. She's the right one for me" (Judges 14:1-3). Samson's "I like it" attitude was obviously incompatible with his identity as a Nazirite. It is also contrary to his parents' established values and the Law of the time. But the Bible continued: "(His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)" (Judges 14:4) The important thing here is not whether Samson's insistence was correct or whether his parents had taught him properly. Rather, it is in the fact that in all things, the Lord on high is in control and He leads us to our great amazement.
We cannot dismiss Samson as just an isolated case. Each and every young person among us is unique. There is great wisdom in Proverbs 22:6: "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6). In the original language of the Bible, the verb for "start children off” is generally used for the act of Solomon in dedicating the temple to the Lord. Meanwhile, the original word for "children" refers to young people in general. And "the way they should go" originally means "at their crossroad." As such, the verse can be paraphrased like this: "Consecrate the young to God. Let them go beyond their crossroad and take the path that the Lord has prepared for them. This way, they will not depart from the prepared path when they grow up or even unto death."
In an era of pressure and pluralism, the children of this generation seek freedom, independence and love. We need to teach and exhort children and bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). At the same time, we need to let go —— let our children meet their own challenges, and let God do His work in leading and teaching them, accomplishing His good will for their lives.