I have always had a heart for the younger generations. I can’t explain why, it’s just something God has implanted in me. A few days ago while walking around Ikebukuro, here in Japan, we happened upon what was seemed like some sort of anime convention or gathering. At least that is what my kids surmised. The family wanted ice cream and a place to rest for a bit but I wanted to explore this fascinating niche of Japan’s younger generation. As I walked up the stairs to where the main gathering was, along the way were young people dressed as characters in very elaborate costumes and make up. It was fascinating and weird at the same time.
As I continued climbing the stairs to the top, I wondered what were in the hearts of these young people that motivated them to work so hard to transform themselves into these characters. Then I saw something weird, sort of sad, and maybe even a bit disturbing, to be quite honest. Along the sides of this walkway and stairs, young people, mostly girls and some guys dressed as female characters, took up their spot to pose for photographers. Some of them must have been quite popular as there were lines of photographers, waiting to take their pictures. The sort of disturbing thing was the photographers were mostly older men.
Now I could comment on a lot of things at this point but I will share what was stirring in my heart. I am not saying that this is gospel truth or from the Lord or right. It’s just what I was feeling in my heart. I began to wonder if how these young people saw themselves was so unsatisfactory that immersing themselves in a fantasy world, being someone else, at least for a bit, was better. Did they feel better about themselves when dressed as these characters than in real life? If so, why? Was this just a way to escape their real lives? All these thoughts and more flooded my mind and began to pierce my heart. Again, I don’t mean to be judgmental or condemning in any way. It’s just that the more I walked around, the more my heart was drawn to the young people behind the costumes. I began to pray asking God to show them how much they are loved by their Heavenly Father. To touch their hearts with the truth that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. As Ephesians 2 says, they were created to be God’s masterpieces!
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Eph. 2:10
I didn’t make it to the top of those stairs. I decided to turn and go back down. My heart was heavy and I had seen enough. As I walked back down, I asked the Holy Spirit to speak to me. I felt His leading to keep praying for these young people and for the younger generations. God has given me His heart for them. The stir in my heart is the stir of the heart of a father that God has implanted in me. A father loves his kids and that is why my heart was drawn to them. I felt Him say that a lot of people hide behind masks, costumes, and all kinds of stuff because they are so unhappy in their real lives, or they believe their lives are disappointing or they are trying to escape.
As I sensed the Holy Spirit’s leading, I began to see that I hide behind masks. I fall into the temptation of trying to be someone I’m not. Yes, I’m no Billy Graham. No real surprise there. There are times I feel I’m inferior the way I am and wish I could be someone else. I wish I could sing like Freddie Jackson. I wish I could dunk a basketball like MJ. I wish I could be an effective communicator like Tim Keller. An evangelist like Billy Graham. A compassionate yet powerful leader like Mother Teresa. A person with the faith like George Mueller. But I’m just me. And the Holy Spirit said, “Yes, you are just you. You are God’s masterpiece. He has created you anew in Christ Jesus so you can do the good things He has planned for you long ago.”
So I decided I am going to pray more intentionally for the younger generations. I am going to pray for all my friends who dress in elaborate costumes at these anime type gatherings. I don’t feel like it, but I guess I’ll pray for all those photographers. And I’ll pray for me. That we would see and believe in our hearts that yes, we were created to be God’s masterpieces. I’m going to pray that they would find the love of a Father who loves them like no other. I’m going to pray that they would turn to the Lord Jesus, so they can find what their hearts are yearning for, what all our hearts yearn for, love and acceptance. I’m going to pray that I would rest in the truth that yes, I too, am God’s masterpiece. To me, that sounds like a plan. Thanks, Father!
Another step …