What I wish I’d known at 18
Since this month’s edition features our 2021 Christian Leaders of the Future — 30 outstanding high-school seniors who are finalists for MCL’s yearly scholarship (see page 23) — here are a few things I wish I’d known as an 18-year-old:
God is more important than I am.
This seems obvious. Of course the eternal, infinite Creator of the heavens and the earth, who knows all things, who is more perfect, pure and holy than I could ever imagine, is more important than I am.
But what does that actually mean? It means whatever brings Him glory is more important than whatever I think is “best.”
I’m still learning this. My default is to assume that my own way of thinking is correct. So sometimes when I’m confronted with God’s way of thinking, God’s way of doing things, I wonder whether He’s being fair; whether my sin is really all that bad; whether He’s really worth my love and devotion.
Are you hearing the pride in this thought process? See Isaiah 45:9.
Since I’m not God, I should trust Him and His Word to tell me what is good and right.
God loves me more than I think He does.
I always “knew” God loved me. But during my senior year of college, I got a glimpse of just how much. That year, my “faith” in Jesus crumbled, and I realized I did not actually have a relationship with Him. I questioned everything and tried to find answers from a purely intellectual perspective.
While I reasoned and argued with myself, God spoke to me. Not once, not twice, but over and over. He sent me scriptures — sometimes the same verse in the same day from two different sources. He sent me songs, and not just on K-LOVE.
God knew I’d be at a certain dinner at a certain festival in Clarksdale on a certain night in fall 2009, so He sovereignly ordained that a group of guys from the Coahoma Community College Concert Choir (say that five times fast) would sing three songs at that dinner:
✦ “A Change Is Gonna Come”
✦“I’ll Be There”
✦“I Want You Back”
These songs are not about the Lord, but the titles got my attention. (Oh, and here’s how “I’ll Be There” starts: “You and I must make a pact / We must bring salvation back … ”)
If God loved me so relentlessly, all while I was a lost sheep waffling on (read: rejecting) Jesus, then He’ll show the same grace to you, whoever and wherever you are.
The longer I live in Him, the more I realize I cannot fathom how deep His love is.
I need to hear the gospel.
The ultimate example of God’s great love is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for sin. This is the gospel, that God so loved the world (aka you and me) that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16).
Before June 5, 2010, I needed to hear this gospel so I could trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins and surrender my life to Him.
I still need to hear this gospel. Not to be “re-saved,” but to remember that God’s Son willingly gave His life to pay for all my sins. That He loved and loves me that much.
When I forget this, sooner or later I go back to the way my flesh wants to live — reliant on myself. I go back to judging others while ignoring my own sins. I go back to seeking pleasure and comfort instead of the One who truly satisfies. And I don’t even think about sharing the gospel, because I’ve forgotten its impact on me.
But when I remember the gospel — it propels me onward in joy and love!
Whether you’re 18 or 81, I hope you’ll be encouraged to remember the truth of who God is — and, if you haven’t trusted in Christ, that you would not wait any longer. He sees your need, He loves you dearly, and He is worthy of your life.
In addition to our cover story, here are a couple of “must-reads” in this issue:
✦ Our feature story on Jackson Leadership Foundation, a “ministry to ministries” that seeks to see souls saved and lives transformed in Jackson (I’m honored to serve on the JLF board!)
✦ Rebecca Turner’s column about how Jesus got her out of an unhealthy relationship with food