I thought on this phrase, slightly shocked and utterly delighted that it would be the first thing in my mind that morning. I may be a musician, with themes from Mozart, and staves from hymns, and improvisations from my own spirit constantly running through my head; but I am not accustomed to waking up with a verse set to music composed in my sleep. It seemed, though, that God had given me those words and music.
I knew the words came from Ecclesiastes—a beautiful book that I actually hadn’t read in months. A quick search yielded the passage:
“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them (Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1).”
As I meditated on this passage all morning, I realized that God had given me—and all children and teenagers—two choices. I could spend my youth as a fool, rejoicing in my vigor and seemingly everlasting life. I could join the crowd and stare at my reflection in my hip sunglasses, ignoring the foreground of next year and the backdrop of the next decade, and the panorama of the next century. Using the excuse of being a hormonal “teenager” my peers and I could choose the life of arrogance and selfishness which society excuses because of our “not-yet-fully-developed” brains. If I slouch down in blissful apathy, however, I will not get away with it. God promises to judge me for my wasted youth: “but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.”
Then there is the other option. Discipline, dedication, and determination—getting to know my Creator requires all of these things. How much richer the experience, though, if I chase after Him now! How much better to prepare now for the time when “the evil days come…when [I shall]…say, I have no pleasure in them (Ecclesiastes 12:1).” Life now will be so much fuller and more constructive, and life in forty years will be all the more precious because of half a century of groundwork laid.
For me, the decision has always been patently clear, though my reasons have changed over the years, and carrying out the commitment is not always easy. Long ago, as a very young child, I looked at rebellious youth and the anguish they caused their parents, and I decided I would never be that. Today, I have made the commitment to righteousness for a very different, very selfish, very simple reason: I want to get to know my Creator in the days of my youth. I want to be His, and I want Him to be mine. I yearn after Him and crave His company—and how much the sweeter will His lovingkindness be when trials and tribulations of life buffet my way?
God was not done with me that day, though. That very afternoon, I ran into a guy I hadn’t seen in a year. His zany humor and zest for life never failed to delight, but along with that quirky character had always been a love for God and his parents. Now, though, something was missing. I recognized the face, the mannerisms, the voice—but I had absolutely no acquaintance with the soul inside. In the one conversation we had, I was devastated to see him mocking God. His sweetness had soured into arrogance; his vivacity had fermented into wild abandon; and his love for God had dissipated into an apparition. After he left, I cried over his lost youth and his lost influence, knowing that God has promised—and will be faithful to—judge him. This boy has forgotten God—but he has only to repent, and God will forgive him and take him back! For this I fervently pray.
Young or old, God holds all of us responsible to get to know him. Here I am, with one short month left in my teenage years, grateful for almost everything that has transpired in my life, but still regretful of many things. This day that God has granted me today—and tomorrow, if He so wills it, and this year, and this decade—but most importantly, this life (however long or short it may be) will be spent getting to know my Creator. If I seek Him now, I know that when I am old and gray I will be able to look back on my life with gratefulness to God—for a life of remembrance.