He’s 22 and between jobs; living with a friend and his family; trying to figure out what he wants to be “when he grows up,” as he says. I was talking to him one night last week to see how he’s doing and how I can pray for him during this time.
Tony mentioned two offers for jobs out of state but said, “I don’t know about that. If God leads me that’s one thing. But I don’t want to move out of state just for a job that may not be worth leaving my friends and church home. I don’t wanna just make a job decision but a life decision.”
How many 22-year-olds think like that? It seems like a small thing, but the value Tony places on brotherhood, biblical fellowship, having godly friends and counselors and serving in the local church is just plain counter-cultural.
It wouldn’t be wrong for him to leave. In fact, God could use out-of-state connections to lead him into a fruitful career down the road. But unlike many in his generation, he’s thinking rather than making impulsive decisions…and valuing the eternal over the temporal.
He’s one of many great young adults I know; 20-somethings who made some dumb mistakes when they were younger but who God has rescued. It’s easy to look at those coming behind us and think, “What are they thinking? Are they thinking?” But didn’t my parents and their parents ask themselves the same question about the generation coming after them?
There are certainly things about which we should be concerned with today’s youth. Never before has a culture been so exposed to the world — in many cases, a perverse one. The internet has put the world at their fingertips: a world with the force of education behind it. A force that can bring both the Library of Congress and repulsive pornographic images into our homes and in front of our kids when we’re nowhere in sight. Today’s young adult is barraged with opportunities to play, peruse and party in ways that weren’t even available to me when phones were tied to walls with cords and computers took up entire floors of college math buildings.
But like every generation, God is at work. Most every teenager and young adult who ever lived has been tempted with lust and premature independence and laziness and wanting to test the boundaries. The context just looks different now. Car backseats and facebook have replaced barns and handwritten notes secretly passed in class, yet wandering hearts remain. The albums Benny and I threw away due to unChristian content are now on some of our kid’s ipods and stuff from which walked away in the 70’s as categorically wrong for a “radical Christian” are back in our lives through kids who love Jesus just as much as we did.
I don’t like these changes. I want radical Christianity to look the same in their generation as it did in mine: smoke-free, alcohol-free and (mostly) secular music-free living! The newly saved “Jesus People” of which I was a part threw aside those things that had ensnared us and reminded us of who we were before Jesus changed us. Yes, we probably thought a no smoking/drinking/secular music lifestyle made us holy and earned God’s blessing and favor. But, honestly,we didn’t think that deeply. We just wanted to put “the cross before us; the world behind us.” (If you don’t recognize those lyrics it’s ok…you’re young.) And, to us, the “world” was all the substances we abused and people we used and sins we committed that convinced us we needed a Savior.
In the midst of change, though, I’m reminded of something: God remains. He is still wooing young hearts to Himself. He has always preserved a people to take the gospel into the next generation. And He will continue this eternal work.
When my husband, Benny, was building a police record as a young teenager that resulted in a three-year sentence to a boys penitentiary, God knew He was about to save him. Then call him to be a pastor. Then bring the judge that suspended his sentence to our new church where he would become an elder. Then take us to Florida where we would start a new church with our seven children and eleven grandchildren who shouldn’t exist because my parents were told I would never have kids.
My young friend, Tony, is one example of many of the persevering, saving, sanctifying grace of God. He reminds me that God is faithful to take wayward or fledgling wanderers and turn them into seekers of Him. Past sin and rebellion didn’t disqualify Benny from grace and fruitfulness, and the Redeemer is still busy saving and preparing a new generation to take their place in redemptive history.
Do you know a teen or young adult who is either wandering or rushing
headlong away from God? Have a child whose spiritual passivity makes you wonder if their childhood prayer for forgiveness was really a demonstration of saving faith? Look at “this generation” with either eye-rolling cynicism or full blown fear?
I was that wanderer. My husband was running as fast as he could away from God. Several of our kids have made adolescent or young adult choices that broke our hearts and, later, theirs. Yet God’s faithfulness remained sure.
While Tony discerns God’s plan for him, that friend he lives with is my son, Jake. It was in my family room that he and I talked last week.
Tony, thank you for reminding me that God is at work. Faithful from one generation to the next. Powerful to save and sanctify. I don’t know what God has for you, but whatever it is will be good. Someday I pray God will grant the desire of your heart for a godly wife and a family. Whoever she is will surely appreciate your eagerness to prepare yourself to be a godly husband and provider. I hope all that happens where I can see it. If not, the values you’re communicating and living now will position you to be a pillar in His church wherever you go.
Oh…and when your kids make you nervous and you get afraid about their future, remember God is faithful. He really is.