Jared hopped on the old, faded couch in excitement. His favorite show was on, and he couldn’t miss it for anything. This was just a part of his daily routine: video games, social media, watching his favorite shows and movies, and of course, the always dreaded homework. But he spent most of his time in front of screens or fooling around with his friends. He loved it. Constantly being entertained was a way for him to escape his problems and responsibilities. But there was something that bothered him about this, although he always brushed it off. Anyways, he needed to enjoy himself while he was still a teenager. He could have more responsibilities when he turned eighteen, graduated high school, and moved out of the house. Besides, isn’t this what every teenager does?
Kelsey flew up the stairs and into her room, with tears running down her face as she angrily slammed the door. She felt heartbroken after being rejected by one of her best friends. Thankfully, she had a group of other friends that she hung out with every weekend. She felt like she could depend on them, but as she hung out with them more and more, she noticed that there were other girls who felt excluded and ostracized from her group of friends. Kelsey also felt like she was missing out on life and had a deeper purpose than to simply hang out. But what was it?
Although all of this might have seemed like a juicy, red apple ripe for the picking, once you draw a little closer, it is not. It’s not wrong to have friends, watch movies, play video games or be on social media, but putting them above all else is wrong. These can be done on occasion and with caution, but once that’s all you do in your spare time, you are throwing your life away. This precious life cannot be wasted. This precious life dies as quickly as the sun sets on a winter night. This precious life that we take for granted, is over in a heartbeat. In the snap of two fingers, it fades away. When the world tells us to use our life and live it to the fullest, we are told a lie. We must “Look carefully then how [we] walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Our society expects teens to waste their lives on the things that this world has to offer rather than choosing what actually matters. Instead of choosing to serve at our local church, we are expected to choose to hang out with our friends. Instead of choosing to spend quality time with our family, we are expected to watch tv. The expectations for teens has been lowered drastically ever since the time when those whom we would call “teenagers,” snuck into battle in order to defend their country, took care of their families in a time of dire need, chose to die rather than give up their precious faith, and gave up so much for a cause that they believed in. However, we are not expected to do such honorable deeds, or really much at all. Rather, we are expected to simply do what feels good to us and be like every other “typical” teenager.
But I have news for you… You don’t have to live by the status quo! You can be the one to break the world’s expectations in order to live up to God’s expectations. He is your only Lord and Savior, after all.
Just think of all the time you waste just being a normal teenager. Now, just imagine using that time honoring the Lord and working for the spread of His kingdom! Now imagine if every teenage Christ follower did the same. We would have an army for the Lord of those who, yes, are young, but are on fire for God. So what would this look like? Well, it looks different for every person, but it ultimately starts by spending time with the Lord every day.
Now I’m not saying that this has to be long, but starting the day off with at least ten minutes of worship in prayer and Bible reading really is a game changer! I have a confession to make, though. I do struggle immensely with setting time aside for this purpose. I usually would rather spend this time on something else which I may think is more important in the moment. Yet I have learned that time with the Lord is indeed time well spent, although it may not seem like it at the time. If we truly want to do work in spreading the light of Jesus, then it starts in our very own hearts. We must do this in order to know the Lord and what He desires of us. Pretend that you were given a task that was incredibly important. You are really ecstatic about this job, but there is one problem… Quite a big problem. You don’t know the person who has given you this task and don’t know his expectations of you. This also means that you don’t have the same joy as you would have if you knew how gracious, good, and kind this person was. You don’t have the same desire to please him and in turn don’t do very effective work. If you would have known this person, his character, and expectations, then you would be excited and willing to please him. The same can be said for God. If we don’t know Him for who He truly is or what He expects of us, we will not have the same joy in doing what He desires of us to do. If we want to bring God glory in the world, we must first bring Him glory in our personal lives.
We are at the age at which we have begun to gain more freedom to choose how we spend our time and energy. Hanging out with friends, playing a game, or watching a movie can all be great ways to take a break and have some fun. The dilemma lies in choosing between watching your siblings or spending time with your friends, serving an older lady down the road or watching a movie, helping your mom with dinner or having some down time to yourself, and the like. When we face these choices, the temptation is to choose the one that we enjoy more rather than to give this up to do what we know we should do. When we are faced with choices such as these that are thrown at us, we must ask ourselves, “In the long run, which one will be more beneficial to me and to others? Which will give more glory to God?”
There are many ways that we can use our time wisely and serve others, but here are just a few ideas. Anything from watching your siblings so that your parents can have a much-needed break to handing out tracts are ways that you can help now. You can help out a family who is struggling, the elderly widow who needs someone to talk to, your local church as it sets up an outreach for the lost, or just simply serving your own family. You do not have to embark upon a journey overseas or to a third world country in order to serve. In fact, the mission starts right where you are. Personally, I have been able to serve by watching my siblings and taking care of them, cleaning my house, helping my parents with house projects, serving with my church by doing yard work, handing out chili to some low income families on a mission trip to Kentucky, trying to be a witness and a light to those around me, etc. Genuinely care for people and have a servant’s heart, which can be tough at times. Talk to your local church or parents to get involved in serving your community in any way you can. Mission work will definitely prove to be time well spent!
Oh, how time is so short and so precious! Your life is but a fleeting breath, or as James wrote, it is as “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Since we don’t have much time on this earth and our lives can end at any moment, let us live with an eternal mindset. Compared with eternity, our lives are nothing and eternity is everything. Compared with eternity, as pastor and author Francis Chan illustrated, our life is but a piece of tape on a rope that goes on forever and ever. Instead of living for the tiny piece of tape, let’s live in light of eternity that we will spend in the presence of our Father. Enjoy life’s gifts, but do the work that the Lord has given you while there is yet breath in your lungs. He alone is worthy of our praise in this life, as well as in the life to come.