01 Apr Living the Dream
When I was a teenager, I dreamt of spending days and weeks at home doing nothing. Playing video games, watching movies, pausing both of those for The Price Is Right at 11am every day – how much better could it get? Now, it seems, that many people around the world are living the dream. As I sit here writing this reflection, I can’t help but think, “Would my younger self have loved that as much as I thought?” I want to say yes, because the hours (days) I put into World of Warcraft and Halo say yes for me.
Now that I am a grown man, living this isolation nightmare, what would I tell my younger self? What would I tell my youth, as they are living out this current reality?
First, I would say this: Don’t waste your isolation. The book I give to students who graduate out of youth every year is “Don’t Waste Your Life”, by John Piper. It encourages students to live their lives, whether that be school, work, marriage, singleness, or whatever they do, to the glory of God, and not to waste it. Probably one of the most memorable quotes from that book is, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Don’t waste your isolation! I know it’s tempting to play video games for all hours of the day (trust me, I have played online with my friends quite a bit), or to watch all of the shows on a streaming service, or even to spend the entire time reading fiction books. But you can be, as Paul pleads in Ephesians 5:16, “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Get into God’s Word. Spend some real time praying for those who are lost, hurting, sick, alone, or on the front lines. Listen to and dissect some worship songs – why do we sing those songs? Research God’s sovereignty in suffering. You can use your time for the glory of God.
Second, I would remind you to build relationships with those around you. You may never again get this period of isolation with your family. Some of you are going to university or college, God willing, next year. Use this time to build relationships and love them. This is a blessing from the Lord, whether you realize it or not. Put down the phone, tablet, game, book, and talk to your parents and/or siblings. Become their best friend while you’re both in isolation. I would have loved this much time with my mom and dad when I was a kid – especially growing up in a divorced family. Use this precious time wisely.
Third, I would tell you that you’re not alone. Some of you went into this isolation bit feeling very alone already, and now you’re alone and you feel forgotten. But the God of the universe knows exactly where you are. He knows your thoughts. He knows your every tear. Not only that (though that is enough), but you have a church family, a small group, at least two leaders, and a youth director who love you dearly. This may last for a while longer but listen to this truth from God’s Word: Psalm 30:5 “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
Finally, I would encourage you to trust the Lord, and bring things to Him daily. Even hourly if you need to! Things may look uncertain to you – especially to you older students. You may be unsure about your grades, about those scholarships, about your job, about your summer at MBC, about your family vacation, about a relationship. During this time, trust Him. Isaiah 55:8–9 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We see maybe a single tree in a forest, or perhaps a few if we are wiser. But God sees that entire forest, every other forest, and every other molecule in the entire universe. We can trust Him, because He is in control. He didn’t suddenly find out that these things are happening. He knows and is in control.
Friends, while you’re at home living the dream that my teenage self would have loved to live, don’t live like my teenage self lived. He wasn’t that bright, but he grew up and is sharing some wisdom with you today.
Love you all, miss you all, can’t wait to do youth again someday.