a story of unconditional love

When it comes right down to it, one of our most important jobs in youth ministry is helping kids and their families understand the unfailing, unconditional, sacrificial love of God. When a kid truly understands God’s love it will affect their faith, their self-image, their relationships and definitely their prayer life. I love this story. I hope you can use it in your ministry if you ever need a reminder of how much God loves us.

After a few worship songs, the pastor stood up and introduced a guest speaker. With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit to speak.

“Three people boarded a boat: a father, his son, and the son’s friend. They were sailing off the Pacific Coast,” he began. “Then a fast-approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and the three were swept off the boat and into the ocean.”

The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who looked somewhat interested in his story. He continued, “Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life. Which boy should he throw the other end of the line to? He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian, and he also knew that his son’s friend definitely was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves. As the father yelled out, ‘I love you, son!’ he threw the line to the son’s friend. By the time he pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beyond the raging swells into the black of night. His boy was never recovered. “

By this time, the two teenagers were sitting straighter in the pew, waiting for the next words to come out of the old man’s mouth. “The father,” he continued, “ knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus. He wasn’t so sure about the friend. Therefore, he sacrificed his own son. How great is the love of God that he should do the same for us.”

With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as the silence filled the room. After the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man’s side. “That was a nice story,” politely started one of the boys, “but I don’t think it was very realistic for a father to give up his son’s life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian.

“Well, you have a point there,” the old man replied, glancing down at his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face, and he once again looked up at the boys and said, “It sure isn’t very realistic, is it? But I’m standing her today to tell you that story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me. You see…I was the son’s friend to whom the father tossed the rescue line.”

Feel free to share this powerful story with your students and may I simply add that your students will be much more drawn to a lifelong love relationship with God when they are constantly reminded of how much He loves them.

Thanks for doing what you do. You are making a difference.

Simply Youth Ministry is here to equip, connect, and recharge youth workers with the tools, relationships,
and confidence they need to help teenagers develop a committed relationship with Jesus Christ.

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