The following is an excerpt from the book, Real Life Moments, by J. Mark Fox, C4FIC Board member.
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” (Daniel 1:8)
To celebrate her 18th birthday, my daughter Hannah wanted to invite a bunch of her friends and their brothers over to play volleyball. Thirty young people, ranging in age from 16 to 22, showed up at our house one Saturday afternoon and played speed volleyball for 4 hours. We learned about this variation on the game from Micah, our oldest, when he was in college. The idea is that you can have 5 or 6 teams playing (with only two on the court at the same time, of course). The team that misses the shot has to rush off the court while the next team in line rushes on before the serving team can hit it over. It is a lot of fun and very competitive if the teams are evenly matched.
Besides playing volleyball, these young folks roasted marshmallows over a bonfire and made s’mores. They talked about things that were going on in their lives, like their schoolwork or their jobs or their churches or their families. No one bragged about how much beer he had consumed the night before. No one talked about how many potential boyfriends she was stringing along. No one was complaining about his parents and the ‘tyranny’ of living within set boundaries. Not one word of profanity was used, even in the most frustrating of moments on the court.
Let me assure you that these were very normal, red-blooded teens and young 20-somethings. These were not angelic beings beamed in from heaven for an afternoon of recreation. But may I suggest to you that these young people were anything but normal? They weren’t talking about the things teens normally talk about because that is not their lifestyle. I know every one of these kids and have for years. They love their parents and have good relationships with them. They love their siblings and, most of the time, are trying to be good examples for them. They love having fun and can spend an afternoon or evening completely sober and unimpeded by foreign substances and not feel like they “missed out” on anything.
The difference between these thirty young people and a random sampling of dozens more is very simple. They have given their hearts to Jesus Christ. They live for Him, not themselves. Like young Daniel, serving God in a foreign culture, they have purposed in their hearts not to defile themselves and be “squeezed” into the world’s mold.
Jeff Baldwin, in his excellent book on worldviews entitled The Deadliest Monster, said “The difference between non-Christians and Christians is not that one acts selfishly all the time and one does not, but rather that one will often treat selfishness as a virtue while the other views selfishness only as a vice.” The world teaches our young people to build their self-worth and their ethics on selfishness. If you don’t believe that, just look at the billboards, listen to the radio spots and watch the commercials that reflect our nation’s value system. The Bible teaches us to build our lives on selflessness. I was thrilled to hear Zach Johnson, the 31 year old winner of The Masters, give a testimony to Jesus Christ. There was no chest-thumping, no self-aggrandizement, no braggadocio. Just a simple and humble gratefulness to God and to all those who helped him make it to the Butler Cabin.
As the young people finished the volleyball games, hugged each other and headed home that Saturday, I couldn’t help but marvel at their wholesome love for one another and for the Lord. That’s sweeter than the best s’more!
Prayer: “Thank you, Lord, for young adults in my family who love You and Your Word.”
Action: Praise the teens in your house for walking with the Lord and help them plan a time for friends to come over (with their parents, if they can come) and play volleyball or another game that the teens will enjoy.