Beloved, Ellyn Spragins, editor-at-large for Fortune Small Business weekly, posed the question to 40 successful women: "If you could send a letter back through time to your younger self, what would the letter say?" The concept of "Letters To My Younger Self" was born. I have been peripherally aware of this book for some time but was recently reminded of it. It has inspired me to craft a spiritual version not so much to my younger self (which is pointless in and of itself) but written in this style for the benefit of anyone who may care to read it and avail themselves of the information it contains, particularly those who are young in Christ.
You were raised in a family that believed in the power and presence of God. You were taught that Jesus, through overwhelming love for you and all mankind, voluntarily died for your sins so that you could one day go to heaven. You didn't really understand what all of that meant or how it worked. You just went to church when Dad said it was time to go. You began to get a better understanding of all of this about the time you were 17 and for a time, became very devout. You were baptized of your own accord. You were in church every Sunday, participated in all of the activities, studied your bible and generally behaved yourself. You even managed to tell others about Christ and they began coming to worship. By the time you finished your first year of college, however, you had all but lost interest. Yes, you still claimed to be a Christian, but you were not living the Christian life. This is what I would like to talk to you about.
You have come to know God though not nearly as well as you eventually will. Hopefully you will get to know Him even more than I do now as I sit here and type this. You had a great start and a wonderful foundation. The path had been laid out for you. But you allowed spiritual immaturity to win the day. You allowed the offerings of the world to distract you from what you knew to be right. Not so suddenly, chasing girls became a priority in your life. Working long hours at a job that paid little to buy things you did not need stole your time. You folded up and placed in a closeted trunk the knowledge, joy, spiritual fulfillment, righteousness, obedience and strong love for the Lord like so many winter sweaters come spring.
I want to remind you that you are wonderfully and individually made by the Creator of the universe. He knows every hair on your head and every desire of your heart. He provides for you, protects you and preserves you through some of the huge messes you make for yourself. And He loves you with everything that He is. All he asks is that you love Him in return. That means being obedient to the things He has laid out for you. Just like with Dad, these things are for your own good and not just "because I said so." Like Dad, he wants you to have a happy, successful, safe and productive life. His ways are designed to guide you to this. Beyond Dad, he desires to behold you face to face, to wrap His loving arms around you and to welcome you into an eternity filled with His light, his love and His presence. He has done everything to make this a possibility, including sacrificing His own son.
I won't kid you. The girls can be appealing to a guy your age. Let's face it, they are appealing to guys of all ages. God made us that way. But he made us to be honorable and holy in all of our interactions. Stuff can be appealing too. But remember the rich young ruler who met Jesus had all kinds of stuff and that stuff kept him out of heaven. Time? Well you never know how much you have. Take a look at the obituaries. No one there thought that their time would be up at the moment that it was. Every moment you have should be lived with the goal of pleasing the One who has made you His son and an heir.
Let me close by saying this: You are going to make mistakes and bad decisions and believe it or not, that is ok. Everyone but Jesus has. My encouragement to you is to stay on the path that God has laid out for you. It is a path that leads home. It leads to the one true God who formed you in the womb. There may be stumbles and distractions along the way, but when you trip, get up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. When you get distracted, look to the hills from whence cometh your help. And lastly remember this which will become your favorite scripture in all of the bible: "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Never leave God, His will or His way. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Who knows, you might even make a fine preacher one day.