Now that I am old and gray (I would be gray if I had hair) I have learned a few things that I would remind my teenage self. I guess over 40 more years of experience, a wonderful wife, seven children and eighteen grandchildren have given me a few lessons. Here they are in no particular order:
- Follow your heart guided by God’s word. Your heart, in itself, will lead you into all sorts of delusion, sin and self-seeking. By immersing yourself in the study of the Bible on your own and in fellowship with fellow saints, God will guide your heart by his word and Spirit. In this way, God will lead you to a godly spouse (if that is his will) and your particular calling in his church and kingdom.
- Work hard when you are younger to prepare for the future. Work! Study! Prepare! Learn! Follow your interests. God’s way for you is more blessed and wonderful than you will ever imagine.
- Even in your difficulties, now and in the future, know that God is guiding you and preparing you for his purposes. Be assured, there will be difficult and painful times. Even in those times, know that our Father is teaching you to lean on him and find support and joy in family and church.
- Seek to see God’s bigger picture. If you focus on your troubles or the weakness and sins of others, your life will be consumed with pettiness and frustration. Trust him to take care of the details.
- Have a heart of forgiveness for yourself and for the sins of others. No matter how wrongfully you are treated, and you will be in ways you cannot imagine, you must trust God to take care of you and work His way even with those who hurt you. Any other way will lead to bitterness with God’s will. Bitterness and anger is rebellion against God and will destroy your soul.
- One of God’s greatest blessings is the joy of a godly spouse who has the same heart and purpose as you have been given. Choose wisely!
- Don’t ever stop fighting against temptation. Your own heart, other people and the wicked world will seek to lead you astray. His word and Spirit with the guidance of older saints will keep you on the straight and narrow.
- Remember the sacrifice of godly parents, grandparents, Christian teachers, and fellow church members that God has used to prepare you for life in his service. Live in such a way to show them honor. When you are called on to contribute to the raising of the covenant children in the church and help your fellow saints, do so with all your heart and strength.
- Learn to live day by day without worry for the future. You are in the loving arms of the Good Shepherd, who will lead you in green pastures and beside still waters. He is faithful to bring you to your heavenly home when the days of your journey are ended. Rest in him.
If you follow this advice, you will be spared untold misery and find joy in God’s way for you.
Now, back to fighting my own battle of faith with the trials and temptations that belong to us “older saints”.
*Dean is a member of Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church in Hudsonville, MI