Monday, October 17, 2011

Dude, Prepare for Later Now

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, "I have no pleasure in them."
-- Ecclesiastes 12:1

Ah, youth! I remember, in the prime of my life, overflowing with the confidence and vigor of pure, automatic trust in my teenage athletic abilities, stepping into the huddle of one of our Saturday football games and saying to Mark, our all-time quarterback, "Just give me the ball. I will score." And Mark let loose a beauty of a pass -- few things look and feel so beautiful to a teenage football-playin' boy than a perfectly thrown pass in the dazzle of an autumn afternoon squirmish -- and I on the furious run brought it to safe harbor in my arms like a baby, racing past the staggered defense on skinny wheels, thirty yards, twenty yards -- he.could.go.all.the.way -- ten yards, five yards, touchdown. I did what I said I would, because I knew I could. Ah, youth!

But the evil days come, creeping in inch by inch, day by day, as metabolism sneaks out of the house overnight, easing the sports car out of the driveway and disappearing. Were I to enter that huddle this coming Saturday and speak with honesty, I should say, "Just give me the ball. I will run out of gas ten yards in, pull up with a muscle cramp, and collapse with two high ankle sprains."

I'm trying, really I am. But compared to the halcyon days of youth, the days have come in which I say, "I have no pleasure in them." Things creak when I get out of bed. I don't even know what they are.

Remember your Creator, the Teacher says. Remember him in your youth. Because youth is passing, fading. It is vanity, meaningless, chasing the wind. Even if you're fast, dude. So it is imperative, in the days of vim and vigor, to prepare for later now. Place your lasting joy in lasting things. Enjoy what you've got while you've got it, but set the termination of your affections on the treasure you cannot lose.

If you fail to prepare for later now, you will wind up a pathetic relic to the past. Before you know it, you're not reminiscing but lamenting. Do you wanna be that guy looking up time machines on the Internet and electrocuting your gonads, eating everybody's steak and ruining their lives? Or leaning against the wall of the high school hangout, a total creeper? They're not laughing with you; they're laughing at you, dude.

Ah, youth. Rejoice in it, for now. Rejoice in the Lord always.


Jeph Maags said...

This is awesome. I totally agree. The problem is, does the youth actually listen to this? Go back to your high school football playing days. How would you say this to that kid? If someone says this to you then, would you have listened? Or do you laugh at them for being old and creaky? The wise would listen, and I would like to say I would have listened, but the truth is, I probably wouldn't have. Any thoughts on how to help youth see the vanity of their current sources of confidence and pleasure?

Jared said...

I'm giving it a whirl in the sermon this weekend. Will let you know how it goes. ;-)

I think 1 Tim. 5:1 gives us a clue: to encourage young men "as brothers," not sort of lording over them or being that cantankerous curmudgeon -- "Well, in my day..." etc.

If the young guy feels like you understand him, you've been where he is, and you genuinely want what's best for him, he will hear you out.
But you're right -- many young guys write off anything along these lines no matter how well shared.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who can sneak a Napoleon Dynamite reference into a spiritual illustration is my hero of the day.


Anonymous said...

It is a humbling thing to try and repeat performances from 10 years ago. I teach and coach at the high school I graduated from. The kids always get a kick out of seeing me try and live up to the reputation they hear. But I continue to prove the statement true, "the older I get, the better I was."

Hope the kids get the Truth from your teaching because life is much more fleeting than I thought it would be.

Nigel Hunter