Use Your Youth

The streets are lit by the synthetic glow of city lights as a group of teenagers party late into the summer night, and then stumble home in the wee hours of the morning.  Any deserted or public building is covered in vandalism.  The girls think of little besides how they look and when their next date might be and the boys run about with little respect for anyone but themselves.  Overall, the young people of our nation are selfish and have no purpose in their lives.  However, I am not writing today to complain about the dire state of American young people, who will be the leaders of the future, but instead I write to offer an alternative option and hope.

I believe that one of the biggest problems is that we do not expect much good of our youth, but actually tend to expect that young people will be rebellious and “sow a few wild oats”.   Popular television shows and books tend to portray impertinent and lazy young men as well as flighty and hateful young women as normal and acceptable.  I recently finished the novel, The Lion of St. Mark, by G.A. Henty, and was inspired by his portrayal of the main character, a teenage boy named Francis living in Venice in the 1380’s.  Throughout the book Francis encounters many perilous adventures, some by fate and some voluntary on his part, doing things like rescuing two sisters from the villain on multiple occasions, designing his own escapes as a prisoner of war, and leading sea battles when no one else could.  The hero was frequently belittled by his superiors because of his age, but proved himself in spite of it and was not overcome by bitterness.

Of course, in modern day America very few young men would have the opportunity to do things exactly like this, but it inspires the point that young men are to be heroes rather than couch potatoes.  Likewise, young women should be intuitive, kindhearted, and purposeful.  Many of the Founding Fathers of our country started their endeavors at young ages like fourteen, and many of the women of the time were responsible enough to marry and run a household as young as fourteen or sixteen.  David was a mere shepherd boy, but he was able to conquer a Giant with the help of God.  Joash was a king when he was just seven years old.

Please realize that I am not writing this as a mere distant observer, but as a young woman in the midst of the fray myself.  It has not been easy for me to try to do things with my time that really matter and age restrictions have sometimes redirected my efforts.  I cannot say that I am particularly successful, talented, or important but I do what I can to make a difference in my world today right where I am.  Another important thing that has struck me about using my youth is that I don’t know how long I have to live. If I were to die, for example, at the age of twenty, I think I would be okay with it and have the assurance that I was fulfilling my life purpose, though many people would consider a person of that age as “too young to die” because he or she generally had not started really living just yet.  Of course, I would love to live past twenty, marry, and raise kids of my own, but the point is that we need to value and use our life, especially our youth.  Life is a gift from God: it was not meant to be frittered away in useless activity, but to be used for His glory.

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