I use to be scared of the future, and to an extent I still am. But something significant has changed in my life.
I use to think to myself, "Wow, the world is so messed up. No one is following God, and even those who say they do are compromising on very important issues. America is going downhill." I would get depressed thinking about trying to be a Christian in a future America,let alone trying to raise a godly family in that sort of environment.
This past year, my outlook has begun to change. This week in particular has really made me reevaluate my thinking.
All throughout history there have been ups and downs--periods where the majority of people in a given country have followed God and have been blessed for it, and then periods where darkness has become the status quo, and the church compromises and gets to a low point.
But it always returns--there is always a rejuvenation in the culture, and life is breathed into the world again. No matter how dark it may get, the light of a single candle is all it takes to pierce it. And through it all, God never leaves us. His promises are true in the dark times and the times of joy.
Statistics say that only 10% of the people in a society have to believe passionately about something for the culture to begin to shift. I fall of us, as Christians, stood up for Christ and DID something about the state of our country, it could change overnight. But we sit on our butts and let the 10% in charge of society right now dictate where we are headed.
This past week I’ve been at a Christian camp in Montello, Wisconsin,pouring out myself and being poured into at the same time. I’ve been humbled,strengthened, and blessed beyond anything I thought possible.
This year’s camp theme was God’s creation. Our culture has been indoctrinated with atheism and evolution for years and years, slowly being pulled away from the truth of Earth’s history and being brainwashed with revisionist history and what many would call, “scientific fact” but what is really just a bunch of assumptions believed through blind faith. The truth about the special design of the universe and how everything points to it has been all but erased from popular culture.
I have heard this topic dozens of times—my dad has taught the subject at youth group often, as well as at camp seven years ago, and we as a family are always reading about it and learning more about what the Bible has to say about the beginning of history. But this time, I came away with something new.
The world is messed up right now, it’s true. But that doesn't mean it can’t change, it doesn't mean we can’t be the ones to do something about it, and it DOES NOT mean that God is any less true or any less good. We, as Christians, have a responsibility to the world to show it the truth,to be salt and light—preserving and illuminating—for a depraved generation. And the time to do this is not in twenty years, or in one year—it’s now.
“Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young,but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12
We, as teenagers, and yes, even those that are younger, like the kids I worked with at Kidz Camp this past week, are not the generation of tomorrow—we are the generation of TODAY. If we start today, if we have the courage to stop nodding our heads at the things we know are wrong, if we have the humility to give ourselves fully to Christ and live a life pleasing to him,if we have the faith to go boldly into the future with God at our side—nothing can stop us.
I admit, that scares me. Even as I write this, I am challenging myself with the same concept. I said I was ALL IN at a youth conference in Chicago this April, but did I mean it, and am I willing to actually live it?
Yes. Yes, I am. I have struggled with many things throughout my young life—sins, attitudes, procrastination—but as I sit here in my house after being gone for a week, being filled with the Holy Spirit countless times,and really FEELING God’s presence throughout that week, I really am ready to take that step.
I look down—my shoes are red. A reminder to myself that it will be a hard road. Blood will be on this road, dirt will be on this road,pain, heartache, weakness, and despair will be on this road. But my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is on this road. And so shall I be as well.
God breathed life into me, and it’s time I gave him that breath back—all of it. I owe him that much, at the very least. After all the pain and suffering He went through to save me from an eternity of separation from Him, the holy God of the universe stepping into his creation and dying for it—I have to realize that fact. I belong to God, and if I don’t live my life for Him, then what else is there?
Nothing. Without God, there is no purpose—and that’s why this makes so much sense. The world is too beautifully created to be an accident. Everything points to that fact. And though some would willingly ignore and reject God, I won’t be among their ranks.
You know that fence we all hang on at one point or another,the one that divides the followers of God from those who reject him? I just kicked it down. Yes, it hurts. Yes, giving up things I know are not godly is going to make me bleed, but it is so worth it. The blood on my shoes is a reminder to me.
A reminder that Jesus bled for me. I can do the same for Him. It will never measure up to His sacrifice, but I owe him too much to not try.
The last night of camp I prayed. Prayed more diligently and purposefully then I think I ever have in my life. And I promised God and myself that I would take the first step. That if I was the only one in this generation who would follow Him, I would do it.
But that’s what’s amazing—I’m not the only one. I have a great cloud of witnesses surrounding me, my friends, my family, my church. And together, we can change the world. This generation can change EVERYTHING.
We can be the candle in the dark room. We can be the fire that burns pure. We can be the hope that this broken, fallen world desperately needs. But we can’t do it without God.
And so we are stepping out. I take a step forward, and I look around. Who will join me? Am I alone in a crowd of people that don’t care about the truth? But then I see it. Their feet—they have the same shoes. Red shoes, like mine. They have bled. They have trusted. They will fight.
An army steps forward.
I’m not saying we won’t stumble. I’m not saying we won’t be angry at God sometimes, or be hurting so much we want to give up. But I am saying we will keep each other accountable. I am saying that we will lift each other up, and strengthen each other, and love each other. I am saying that we will give everything we have. For we have seen the light at the end of this broken road we walk, and it is the most beautiful thing we have ever seen.
And so there we shall go.
“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.” –Proverbs 4:25
That is my prayer for all of us. That we focus our eyes on Jesus and never look back. The army takes another step. And then they begin to sing.
“Hosanna, we are found after all. You are holy.”