"Said I, to myself," said I.
This month we celebrate a season of graduation at our church, as several of our young people are graduating high school, college, or other programs. With that in mind, here are a few points of encouragement I would make to a younger version of myself upon the occasion of my high school graduation ten years ago.
First and most importantly, God is telling the truth when he makes promises to you in his Word. Your life has been filled with many challenges, but he has seen you through them. Following Jesus through the challenges to come in life will not be easy, but it will be worth it. He wasn’t lying when he said he will never leave you or forsake you.
To be a missionary is to have a mission. To be a Christian is to have a mission. You are a Christian – which means that you are also a missionary. Live like one, wherever God takes you.
There will be many days when your life will not make sense. The Word of God can help you make sense of it. In recent years, you’ve had incredible opportunities to plumb the depths of God’s Word. Keep going. The depths of his Word are so much deeper than you know and worth exploring. You will never regret a moment spent in quiet, restful contemplation in the presence of God. You will regret many a moment squandered watching television.
Read more books. Then read more books.
Get outside and breathe fresh air more often.
Your tolerance of your sexual sin will have more far-reaching consequences in your life and relationships than you realize. You already know this, but sexual temptation has never and will never make good on its false promises to you. You will grow to hate it more and more. At times, you will be so filled with shame that you will hate your very self. But there is no sin greater than the grace of God, and his grace will never stop running after you. He will never stop loving you and fighting for you. Have hope - you will not always feel like lust owns you.
There’s a difference between investing in friendships and collecting social capital or popularity. One of the most profound ways that you will make an impact on this world will be in striving to be a good and faithful friend. This is not the same thing as trying to make people like you.
You’re going to be able to spend some time at Oxford. This doesn’t make you smart, just like attending an MLB game doesn’t make you a shortstop.
Your worth doesn’t come from the external places you think it does: your achievements, the approval of others (especially your mentors), the accumulation of possessions, memories, or grand experiences. It doesn’t come internally either – through meditation, self-improvement, or “loving yourself.” Your circumstances will change, your achievements will fade, your relationships will change – even you will change. All will let you down. You know who doesn’t change or let you down? Jesus. Only he gets to tell you where your worth comes from. Which means you need to let his voice be louder in your life than anything external or internal.
Don’t be anxious about your life. Jesus was telling the truth when he said that you can’t make one hair on your head turn white or black. But you just might start to lose hairs sooner than you think if you don’t chill out. Also, don’t be afraid to get some counseling. It’s a really good thing, and most people probably need it. You’re one of them.
The kingdom of God is far more diverse, beautiful, and resilient than you know. The Bride of Christ will both disappoint and love you far beyond your wildest expectations or deserving. You will love getting to be a part of the Church.
Beware of the arrogance that so often accompanies Reformed theology. If it doesn’t make you deeply humble, merciful, and patient, you’re doing it wrong.
You’re going to get to marry the most amazing person you meet. You will not deserve them.
P.S....You’re really going to enjoy rooting for Alabama football.
~ Pastor Jeremiah Hill