The road trip with our sons last week will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life. It was such a rare, privileged time to revisit important sites – my schools, churches where I served, the old Youth for Christ office where I worked, the church where I preached my first series of meetings, the two homes in Tulsa where I lived with my family. To be with my sons – praying with them, sharing with them, encouraging and exhorting them – this is the good stuff of life.
Jonathan and Joel were surprised to discover the intense schedule I kept as a young evangelist. I recounted that during my time with Tulsa YFC (1968 – 1969) I think I can safely say I was out at least 300 evenings. Either I was preaching, leading a Bible study, helping in a Christian event, or engaged in some way in evangelism and discipleship. I then entered John Brown University in the fall of 1969 as one very tired freshman! But I would gladly do it all again – anything to bring kids to Jesus.
I’m determined not to whine as I grow older. But allow me just one protest against aging – with less energy I am regrettably starting to “pace myself.” In earlier years it was full throttle, all the time. I may not have the strength I had at 21 – but my vision is far greater now than it was even then. While my response time is slower, in some ways I think my mind is keener than ever. My point of reference for life is still the future, not the past. For that, I’m very grateful.
For those of you who are younger, let me go against conventional wisdom and urge you to think twice before you start “pacing yourself.” Yes, eat right, exercise, get proper sleep. But while you have the strength and energy of youth – pour it OUT – for Jesus and for His honor in your generation! For any teenagers reading, grab onto this challenge from youth evangelist Gregg Johnson: “You are only a teenager for seven years. If you survive, you may well be an adult ten times longer. Give God the tithe of your teenage years and He will give you an open heaven for the rest of your life.”
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
“Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
Join in the battle for truth.”
– Howard B. Grose