Giving advice always seems such a tenuous task, balanced between two equally foreboding chasms: impersonal aphorisms that do little to instruct and a fruitless attempt to reach into your future based upon our past. After all, you already have the best book of instruction on all matters, a book you know well. What more could be added to that?
However, since I have benefited from stories and advice from those wise in past mistakes, I hope I can teach you from mine as well. As always, prayerfully consider what I say and seek God for true wisdom (Acts 17:11).Beware the gradual loss of joy and wonder: Attacks on our faith rarely come as a frontal assault—more often they grow as ivy, slowly covering our defenses. Day by day, the joy you’ve known slips away, and bitterness spills in. Make it a habit to praise God for something new each day. Lead by following: This became a cliché because it’s true. Jesus came as a missionary to our world and served the sick, dying, and hungry. He didn’t have to. He didn’t need to. He wanted to. Joyfully serve and show others what loving people with reckless abandon means. Don’t be surprised by sin: Sin isn’t a popular term. It’s not politically correct. But it will smack you in the face from time to time—both your own and that of others. When that happens, you may be tempted to be discouraged. Don’t be. God knows our sinful nature and loves us until we’re clean. That’s what really matters. Remember your calling: You may already know or suspect God’s call for you. Keep that calling in mind. After all, there’s a reason Paul reminded Timothy of his calling—it’s easy to question when times are difficult. Go where God calls. Go scared if you have to (and you may), but go. God’s not finished: Sometimes the news may make you think that God’s finished with us. Web articles may make you feel like you’re the only one left who hasn’t bowed to Baal. And TV shows and movies may make you wonder how things could get so bad. But God’s not finished with us. He’s never surprised by anything. Love: Above all else—and this may sound elementary—love like you have no time left to love. Love by giving your life away. Love by sowing into others. Love by sharing what you have. Love by putting God first.
Wherever God takes you, I know He will faithfully bless and provide for the dreams He’s given you (and will yet give). You’ve only just begun to see how hard and rewarding it is to take up your cross daily.
And it’s definitely worth it.