Youth at the Crossroads

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Dear Youth,
The onset of adolescence lies behind you, and you are journeying on a path toward manhood or womanhood. You are filled with a zest for life, a quest for knowledge, ambitious goals, and dazzling dreams. Yours is a thrilling age! Life lies before you. You are developing new skills, advancing in knowledge, and growing toward maturity. God has blessed you with opportunity to possess all things that pertain to life and godliness! Will you make right choices at the crossroads in your life?

Your parents have tried to instill godly core values into your life. Up to this point, your parents have largely guided your course. but as you continue through your youth, you will begin making more of your own decisions. This budding independence can be both exhilarating and frightening. You will encounter many options for good, godliness, and life; and you will also see many paths of sin, self, and worldliness that lead to shame, ruin, and destruction.

You will begin to question many things that heretofore you accepted as truth and never fully processed in your own mind. This is an important stage in life. Proverbs 4:26 says, “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.” This verse tells us that we should contemplate our path in life, weighing the options. The goal is to walk on a path of righteousness. But this phase either gives the devil an opportunity to plant doubt in your mind about truth, or gives you the opportunity to replace an impersonal hand-me-down acceptance of truth with a warm embrace of truth in a very personal way. We call this “developing personal convictions.”

As you travel through your youth, you will see many paths that veer off the godly road. Indeed, some of these paths are so well traveled that they may almost look to you to be the right road. but they are not. These are paths that deviate from respect and honor of your parents. Some of these trails may have names like Questionable Friends Freeway, breaking Curfews Cul-de-sac, and Shady Truth Trail. The godly road is to “honour thy father and thy mother.” “Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (Deu 5:32).

You will soon come (if you haven’t already) to the most important crossroad in your life. Matthew 7:1314 says, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Have you met Jesus at this crossroad? Have you listened to His counsel to choose life? Are you walking in faith on the narrow way?

Each morning you stand at a crossroad. One path leads down a gentle slope to the busyness of the cares and pleasures of this life. It is convenient to take this road—you can coast! The other path leads uphill and can be a strenuous climb by times. It leads to a Bible, to fellowship with Christ, and communication with Him. Which do you choose?

In our modern evil society, sinful men and the devil himself have paved many beautiful roads that lead away from the narrow way of Christ. You will chance upon these crossroads sometimes when you least expect it. One such crossroad to be especially aware of is the Immorality Interchange. The Fornication Freeway may look free, but it will cost you your soul. Young men are exhorted in Proverbs 7:25-27 to “Let not thine heart decline to her [the evil woman’s] ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.”

Young brother, are you free from pornography and impurity that will place you on the slippery slopes of sin? Has Christ transformed your mind? Are you open with your father and your ministry about how you use your cell phone? Have you made a covenant with your eyes not to behold evil?

Young sister, do you realize that what pornography is to a man, sensual romance novels are to you? Do you guard your mind and heart and modestly clothe yourself? Do you have a sweet and open relationship with Christ, but practice a godly reserve toward men?

You will also arrive at the music mega-junction. This crossroad is vast and sprawling because there are so many different options. Some youth decide which road to take based on what their friends do. They would rather have the praise and acceptance of men than the approval of God. Unwholesome peer pressure controls their life. Others choose based on what pleases their senses. They settle for lyrics with shallow repetition and music with a lusty beat. Perhaps they reason that if the words are okay, the lyrics will sanctify the music. Still others, while perhaps in the minority, happen to remember that God’s Word teaches principles about the music that honors Him. They also recall that their parents and their church have given them guidelines to help avoid confusion and ruin at this juncture. They truly believe that disobeying their parents and breaking church standards is sin. Rather than listening to contemporary Christian music, they pursue being a contemporary (modern-day) Christian who seeks Christ’s values. Instead of feeding on country music, they “desire a better country, that is, an heavenly” (Heb 11:16a). Rather than listening to rock music, they decide to build on the solid rock. They are committed to completely shunning the devil’s music, even on their cell phone ring tones. They choose the right path and edify themselves with “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.”

And then there is the Communication Circle. This superhighway’s traffic moves along at such a dizzying speed that it is hard to stay on the sidelines of this road without being swept away with the deluge of traffic! Data—both good and bad—is at our fingertips. Our society bombards us with a barrage of information due to enhanced connectivity. Our tools easily become our toys. Our cell phones beckon us with their incessant ringing. Our thumbs become “calloused” with ceaseless texting. We have emails to catch up on and a web to surf. We are “in the know” and want to “stay in the loop.” but where are we going? We travel around on the Communication Circle all day long, only to repeat the loop the next day! Will we continue to whirl around faster and faster until we are sucked down the middle like swirling water going down a drain? How will you avoid going under spiritually? Let me share with you the secret. It is being in the Communication Circle with Christ. Don’t let a day go by without being connected—not online, but to the Vine. The Bible doesn’t say, “Text without ceasing,” but, “Pray without ceasing.” The noble Bereans did not “surf the web repeatedly” but “searched the Scriptures daily.” The blessed hope of the Christian is not in being “sucked under,” but in being “caught up together … to meet the Lord in the air.”

If you haven’t figured this out yet, many of the crossroads you are facing in your youth are also issues that adults face. Casualness Crossroads is no exception. Casualness is a difficult issue to discuss because it is impossible for us to see into people’s hearts as God can. One can look right on the outside but inwardly have lost their first love. Or perhaps their dress starts to show what is going on in their hearts. Regardless of its form, the root of the issue is a lack of respect and reverence for God, indifference toward spiritual things, and a failure to love God with all the heart. Taking this road has destroyed many youth, and so I present to you a possible scenario to show how this can work. This road veers ever so slightly away from the path of godliness, that for a while the two roads look like just one very wide road. people going down this alternate path may seem unsure that dress matters. Stripes and checkers show up on their shirts for Wednesday evening prayer meetings and Sunday night services, and after a brief delay they arrive on Sunday mornings as well. Light colored pants follow suit. Walking hand-in-hand with them, though unseen, is an increasingly casual mind set that erodes away at the seriousness of the Christian life.

Now let’s grab our binoculars and look farther down this same road to see what has become of others who stood at this same crossroad years ago. By now, after a few church hops, people on this road are wearing pants (or shorts) that bear every resemblance of the world. Their shirts have become brighter and bolder, with shirttails that hang out. Ornamental and recreational goatees, moustaches, and long sideburns adorn the faces of the men, since that is the current fad. The lady’s dresses—Wait! Did they use to wear dresses?—have given way to mod, ill-fitting skirts and immodest blouses. Some even wear slacks. And on top of their heads is a minuscule mockery of what used to be an ample covering. As they ascend the steps into their church for Sunday morning worship, their lips profess that it is only the heart that matters, but their true colors will show when their girls cut their hair, and increasing worldliness and departure from biblical doctrine mark the next generation. Don’t allow casual to make you a casualty.

Crossroads in your life will not always make you choose between good and evil. Sometimes the choices are between two things that are both good in themselves. Should I help the busy young mother in our church today, or should I go to help CAM can chicken? Should I teach school, or go into VS in Honduras? If you listen closely, God’s Spirit will direct you in making a wise choice. It may be the counsel from your parents that helps you decide. It may be circumstances that nudge you in one direction or another. It may be a feeling God placed deep within you that helps you know which path to take.

Does it appeal to you to “go into VS somewhere”? many of these same service opportunities will regularly present themselves in your home community. Why not try VS there first before pursuing a role elsewhere? Would you be willing to visit your sick neighbor and show them Christ’s love? Would you be willing to buy the Star of Hope with your own funds and monthly hand them out to all your neighbors? Would you welcome and instigate spiritual discussions as you met your neighbors as you handed out the Star? Do you willingly give of your paycheck to your local congregation’s Sunday offering, the work of a Christian publishing house, or a conservative relief organization? As you practice these things, you will be a real blessing to your own home and community, and be an even greater blessing to the program when you do “go into VS.” In reality, VS is an attitude of the heart and a willingness of the hands and feet, rather than a position to fill in an organization’s program.
Never allow the materialism of the age or social relationships to hinder you from following the path God has for you. Sometimes the right hand path may not necessarily be wrong, but needs to be forsaken in order to choose the left path. When Peter and Andrew were fishing, Jesus met them and said, “Follow me.” “And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him.” Mark 10:29-30 says, “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Are you willing to choose the left path?

Another intriguing crossroad in your life is that of marriage. bBrother, if you feel moved of God to begin courting and have the blessing of your parents, move ahead. Sister, if you are asked by a godly young man, seriously consider his request. Six thousand years later, it is still “not good that the man should be alone.” And two thousand years later, God is still interested in seeing “that the younger women marry” and “bear children.” God may be more interested in your getting married and starting a godly home where children are loved and nurtured than in your going into VS. In fact, godly marriage and godly home life are a form of VS, where each humbly serve the other and nurture their children. If you mind God’s Spirit, He will direct you at this crossroad.

Perhaps you have taken the wrong road at one of the crossroads, and now you wish you could find your way back. From wherever you are, God’s redemptive love has built a road back to the highway that leads to glory. At this crossroad you will see a cross. The road is the path of repentance and confession. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9). God loves you and greatly desires your heart! Take Him with you on your journey, and He will guide your feet on the path that leads to the streets of gold. May God richly bless you!

Your brother, Lamar Stoltzfus

~ Lititz, PA
September 2013