Spring Fake: The Facade of Spring Break

Through the dead of winter, school crept along at a snail's pace. Tests piled up, the weather became dreary, and the end of the nasty season appeared nowhere in sight–until now.

As spring approaches, so does spring break. And that means millions of teenagers and college students soon will be flocking to the beaches during the first part of spring in an effort to leave behind winter's worries.

Each spring, more than 500,000 young people from all over the United States and Canada visit Panama City Beach, Florida, one of the hottest spots for spring break in the country. Students can participate in a plethora of activities sponsored by MTV or local bars and clubs–activities guaranteed to make most parents blush with embarrassment.

While spring break may be a relatively new phenomena in our culture (its origins of today's pursuits can be traced back to 1962), its end result is as old as mankind. Starting with Adam and Eve in the garden, people have strayed off the path set before them, seeking to satisfy their flesh rather than seeking satisfaction through God. As always with sin, the enemy requires more and more as we are satisfied less and less.

You can't always guard your children from pain and disappointment, for that sometimes produces the strongest growth. However, you can explain to them the emptiness of pursuing anything other than God.

The Lord displays His faithfulness time after time in our lives, showing us just how deeply His love runs.

When your children begin to grasp this concept at an early age, they will begin to leave behind the attractions of this world for a deeper life with Him. If you have experienced a time in your life where you pursued something other than the Lord, now might be a good time to share with your teens (as much as you are comfortable discussing) how God has redirected your steps and changed your thinking.

Whether it is searching at the beach, chasing after a job, or pursuing fame or fortune, seeking fulfillment outside of God is nothing new. All throughout the Old Testament, the Hebrew people turned their backs on God again and again. They sought to fill their emptiness with idols, with power, with riches. But no matter how many times the people strayed, they eventually came back to the Lord with the understanding that only He can completely satisfy them.

The prophet Jeremiah delivers a word to the people, urging them not to continue running from God: "Thus says the Lord, 'What injustice did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty?'" (Jeremiah 2:5).

Spending a week at the beach is not bad in itself, but indulging in the debauchery that oftentimes accompanies a spring break trip results in emptiness. Teenagers need to understand this is truth. As a parent, you might want to examine the risks of such behavior with your teenagers, reminding them of the inevitable results of these exploits.

The apostle Paul wanted to make sure the young church in Ephesus was so filled with the Lord that they would not desire to pursue anything else.

In praying for the people, Paul asks the Lord to fill them up "to all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19).

If you have a responsible teenager, you might feel comfortable in allowing him or her to visit the beach with a group of friends and a chaperone. But if you are not ready to let him or her handle that amount of temptation or peer pressure away from home, here are some viable alternatives for spring break week:

• Volunteer to take your teenager and some friends to the beach, with your acting as the chaperone. You might feel more comfortable in letting your teen have some freedom at the beach if you are nearby.

• Although it may be too late to sign up your teen for a week-long spring break mission trip, home mission trips are always a readily available option. Doing household chores or helping in the yard for elderly neighbors or working in a soup kitchen might be an opportunity for your kids to learn the value of service.

• See about arranging a shadowing opportunity for your teenager. If you have a son or daughter who is interested in a particular job field, try to arrange for them to follow around a professional for a few days.

• Plan five nights of fun family activities. Even if it wears you out, plan five exciting activities for the whole family every night during spring break. Include your teenager's input. Whether your teenager wants to admit it, he or she loves the attention and time spent with you.

- Tonya Stoneman

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