April 11 I Wednesday
1 Samuel 17-18
“You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.” —Ecclesiastes 11:9
Despite negative recollections we may have of the past, God designed us to enjoy our youth. Being young is a time to dream big and desperately seek to change the world, even if we do not know how. It is meant to be an exciting and joyous period where we can take advantage of youthful energy and vigour to follow the whims of our hearts and be adventurous.
But following the ways of our youthful hearts is not always beneficial. Temptation attacks at full strength when we are young, presenting pleasures like engaging in sexual activities or the media as the place to find meaning and joy. Those who have not attuned their hearts to God will readily consume these sources of momentary pleasure, but when the satisfaction they bring inevitably wears off, they are left feeling empty and still searching. This leads to an endless cycle of relighting these flickering candles of pleasure in the hopes of achieving joy that lasts.
True joy, however, is found in remembering our Creator so we may know Him, be reconciled to Him and live under His guidance and leadership. This can be intimidating for young people. With feelings of freedom and optimism for the future, the idea of submitting to Christ as Lord may seem daunting and suffocating. I remember talking with a student who did not want to become a Christian because she was afraid God would send her to Africa as a missionary, which, at the time, was totally against what she wanted. If we fear God’s plan for us, it is for the simple reason we do not know God well enough.
Whatever God’s plans for us, they are good, pleasing and perfect. Philippians 2:13 says “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose.” God is not a malevolent taskmaster saying, “Do this or else,” but rather our joy is made complete when we surrender to His will. He then turns His desires for us into our desires so that we will pursue them and find joy in His calling.
The frightened student did end up accepting Christ as her Lord and Saviour, and wonder of wonders, she and her husband eventually entered the mission field in Africa. Her fear had turned to joy because she wanted with all her heart what God wanted for her. God changed her desires, motivations and dreams to align with His. When we genuinely surrender our lives to Christ, we are actually trading the flickering candles of earthly pleasures for the roaring flame of lasting joy and fulfillment in the Lord.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, so many young people are looking for joy in faulty places. I pray You will reveal Yourself to them so they may discover that the greatest joy of all is found in You. Thank You, God.