I recently spoke to a group of young men, and I couldn’t help but see my younger self in the crowd. As I gazed out into the pews where the young men sat laughing, and enjoying each other’s company my heart went out to them. The times are crazy, and I can’t imagine what they will experience in their lives. These young men are future leaders, who will lead families, businesses, and possibly God’s house. I never take a speaking engagement lightly, but this one seemed to have a little more weight.
My approach to this was slightly different. The message was Christ-centered, Bible-saturated, and that is always my approach to speaking. This time though, I added one more person to the audience, my younger self.
If we are all honest, there are some things we would’ve changed in our life. God is sovereign over all events in our life, including the most difficult times. That being said, we are fully-responsible for every decision we make. He is sovereign over all decision making, and we are responsible for all of our decision making. This, I believe, is the greatest paradox in the Bible. It is the hardest thing for our puny, finite mind to grasp, yet time and again in the Bible, it’s there. God’s sovereignty, and man’s responsibility. Therefore, I do think we would all say that we would approach some of our life decisions a little differently, and we would seek different outcomes in certain circumstances. If you could talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Here is what I would say:
You and I are going to walk through unimaginable things in this life. Pain unimaginable, sorrow unimaginable, and lows unimaginable. Here’s some things I pray you would do, and I know you won’t.
Firstly, surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. I know you don’t understand this, and God has pre-appointed a time for you to hear and be saved, but you will understand this later. Jesus is who He says He is. He’s more valuable than all you will pursue. He’s the way that leads to real life, and all else that you pursue is a dead end, literally. You will look back and wish you journeyed down Narrow Lane, and not Broadway much sooner.
Secondly, obey authority. I know in your fallen nature, you do not like authority. I charge you to obey, but I know you’ll rebel. You will regret your disobedience one day, and you will wish you heeded warnings such as these. Obey your parents, your teachers, every police officer, because all are in place by God. Every time you disobey one of them, not only do you disobey them, but you disobey God.
Thirdly, learn to pray. If Jesus woke early in the morning, and went and prayed, how much more should you? I know you feel alone, and abandoned, but your not. Jesus’ disciples didn’t say, “Lord, teach us to do miracles. Lord, teach us to preach.” They said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” It is vital that you learn to communicate with God.
Fourthly, read your Bible every day. You probably ate today, and you’ll probably eat tomorrow, because you need food to live. And I tell you, man does not live on bread alone. The Bible is what’s needed to bring life to your dead heart, maintain your spiritual life, and grow your spiritual life. You seek to eat each day, but also feed your spirit. I wish you would fall in love with your Bible now, but I know you’ll read everything except it for a time.
Lastly, love your neighbor. All people are made in the image of God, and have value because of that. The world does not revolve around you, and your selfishness fuels your destructive path. Love those around you, genuinely. Be kind to people, because that’s what it looks like to be a real man. Self-exalting, and self-centeredness must die in you. The kid on the playground that everyone ignores, love him. The kid in the classroom that everyone picks on, stand up for him. Live your life for Christ, and for others, and you will find the true meaning of this life.
Unfortunately, you will not heed these warnings, but praise the Lord for His sovereignty over your life, because without Him you would have perished. Not only in this life, but eternally.
Until we meet again.