America is a mess. The world is in even greater turmoil. If one is a prognosticator, the outlook for the future is less than favorable.
An honest assessment of our nation would leave any young person discouraged and depressed. Bankrupt is the word that might best describe our current status in these areas and so many more:
As someone who is the father of two millennial young men, I look at the condition of our nation, our communities, and our families, and there is only one place I can go to ascribe blame.
Yes, my generation, and perhaps those before, are accountable for the drastic decline in the bankrupt conditions we are grappling with today. Our focus, our attention, and our priorities shifted little by little, year after year, decade after decade. And this slight change of direction over the years has veered us of course from much that is good, pure, and God-honoring.
It’s possible that many of us in my generation are beginning to see the errors of our ways, and we are seeking to acknowledge before God Almighty, and a searching world, that we have wronged Him. But as we have wronged our Creator, we have inadvertently wronged our posterity.
But, while I may have run my leg of this ongoing relay race poorly, and while I may have even dropped the baton I was carrying, as I pick it up and hand it off to the next generation of millennials, there is only one way that this new generation can run a better race than their forefathers, and have hope for their own future.
That hope is in change. And the hope I am referring to is not in some change in a political message. Or a social justice message. Or an environmental message. Or even in a message of tolerance.
Rather, the hope for this next generation is in God, the One who has never stumbled, never faltered, and never wavered. Consider what the Psalmist had to say about the hope for each new generation, including millennials:
“So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.” Psalms 78:7-8
Yes, my generation was, and perhaps still is, stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful. We have refused to give our hearts entirely to God, being lured into many “good” things, but perhaps not the best. But if we are honest, we may have also been lured into many bad things as well.
But lest any of you millennials begin to pile on the criticism of your parents and forefathers, I caution you to consider that the same temptations and struggles that we have experienced will be presented to you as well. A foolish response would conclude that “I can stand; or I will withstand, the temptations that derailed my fathers.”
But God warns, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” A common thread that binds all generations to each other are the frailties, the struggles, and the failures that each of us experiences. We are all infected with a spiritual virus that, if left untreated, will always result in national, cultural, moral, and individual spiritual bankruptcy.
But there is hope by returning to God.
Perhaps that sounds trite, so just what does a life that “returns to God” look like? Does that person put on the attire of a monk or nun, and then retreat to a secluded corner of the earth somewhere? Or is it possible to have a fully engaged, productive, and exciting life, while still returning to God?
Yes, Yes, and Yes again!
Life will never be experienced to its fullest and it will never truly be fulfilling until a person embraces God fully. To embrace God though, it may require you and me to change our behavior, our priorities, and our values. So here’s a quick list of some things that will characterize a person who is embracing God:
- Bible — this will become the most important Book in your life and you will seek after it like a thirsty man seeks water. So a life that returns to God will read the Bible, everyday, for the rest of his life. And read it a lot.
- Pray — you and I will communicate with God many times daily, sharing our deepest secrets, struggles, needs and victories, just as we would our closest friend.
- Repent — as we fail God, falling short of His clear standard, we will promptly acknowledge our sin, and in a spirit of humility and sorrow, repent of our transgressions to God, because of the forgiveness that is offered through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s Son.
- Return — When we repent, we will return to the top of this list and begin reading and praying again.
- Serve — Jesus taught, both in word and deed, that the greatest among us would be a servant. So one of God’s way to the hearts of men is through service. Ask God to soften your heart, seek humility, and then walk through the doors God opens as you begin to live the life of a servant. You will be amazed at the abundant opportunities that are all around you to demonstrate the heart of Jesus via service.
- Glorify — man’s chief aim and purpose is to glorify God. That is what you and I were created to do. While this may seem like a vague purpose, if you begin to meditate on just what this means, and find how you can do so via God’s Word, God will begin to quicken your mind to the unlimited ways in which you can glorify the One who has given you the breath of life, and everything else you have. Remember, “whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
So as you consider the many bankruptcies confronting you and me, “let’s not get tired of doing what is good.” We will all be judged individually, regardless of what an entire nation is doing. The old, godly way is the one that will lead to true fulfillment in life, and it’s the only one that offers peace in the midst of the storms surrounding us.
I pray that you will grab the baton, and run the race, in a way that you will look back and know that God is pleased. In so doing, you will be assured of hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And the eternity ahead, will be one beyond your wildest imaginations!
“This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’” Jeremiah 6:16
“Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young…” Ecclesiastes 12:6