Tonight I got to spend an hour and a half with a young lady whom I have known for at least 7 years. She was 12 years old when I met her! I love and admire her and her parents, and as we walked together this evening, a lesson made itself abundantly clear.
When you grow up in a good home, you most likely had three balanced meals a day…Therefore, when you played ball in the yard or at school, you had the energy. You probably took vitamins or at least someone was making sure you had your nutrients, so you got up in the morning feeling good (or at least by 2nd period, you were feeling good!) You most likely had a bedtime or a curfew, a time limit maybe on the TV or video games, all so that you would do well on that test in the morning and not become a zombie like some of your friends who didn’t have such involved parents. Call it strict; call it rules; call it whatever you want…Good parents take care of these vital parts of who we are as people, in hopes that we will catch on and do it for ourselves when we are on our own. It is no coincidence that people who eat healthy can run miles, and people who don’t stay up until 2 a.m. everyday can think clearly and have better job performance. It is no coincidence. It’s not luck and maybe not genes. It’s discipline…Grace, yes, but discipline.
So in the same way, families who cultivate a relationship with God and surround their sons and daughters with godly instruction, prayer and devotional time, playing Christian music, going to church and having Christian friends over, even time set aside each day as “a quiet time”, as well as maybe things like Bible Drill, youth camps, and AWANA are making a framework of faith for the whole family to live by. It is no coincidence that kids in strong Christian families often pray to receive Christ by the time they’re 10 and often rededicate their lives to Christ by the time they go to college, because they are surrounded by God and the things of God. And it is no coincidence that when they leave home, they may not stay “close to God.” I think maybe here’s why…
This friend was telling me that when she was in high school, her whole life was what went on daily in that school and every night was preparation for the next day at that school. Those people, those halls, those clothes, that was life. Whatever her teachers led her to think about throughout the day, those were her thoughts most of her waking hours. Whatever her friends led her heart to care about through the day, those were her desires most of her waking hours. Whether we’re at school, work, home, camp, whatever, we are being molded. The course of the river of our heart is being directed!!! All the time!!! So, when we leave the nest and there’s no more disciplines as part of our schedule, it only takes a couple months to feel LOST. The disciplines cultivated in a godly home weren’t anything in themselves, the rituals are not holy in themselves, but if a person was led to genuine prayer, worship, Bible Study, and personal time with God weekly, they may not even realize what is missing when they’re on their own and feeling distant from God.
C.S Lewis said that we daily get up and brainwash ourselves! I know a lot of people probably have a problem with that statement, but I get it and I live it. We renew our minds daily and we get lost really quick if we don’t. As my pastor and his wife have said, “We do not follow our hearts. We LEAD our hearts.” We lead our hearts to setting still before the Lord, giving, worshipping, meeting with other believers. I don’t think young adults are falling away from God because the church necessarily failed them or is too traditional or because their relationships with God were not real enough or deep enough. I think some of them are falling away for the exact same reason that I fall away so regularly!! Because they don’t realize that it isn’t GOD that is missing all of a sudden, but rather the things that helped them grow in Him that are missing all of a sudden. It’s no coincidence that if we eat Twinkies for a week, we feel like crap! And it’s no coincidence that if I don’t open my Bible, meet with a believer, or come to God in confession and praise for a whole week, that I will feel lost and confused and scared that we have lost Him.
We have been fed a lie from the enemy that we are “not under law” and don’t need disciplines, and that God is always with us, so that’s enough. We’ve been fed the lie from the enemy that there isn’t more to grasp in the Lord anyway, as long as we have these basics from our childhood. I have personally given into the lie from the enemy that this yucky feeling I have when I have not been spending quality time with the Lord is God being mad at me (for my lack of discipline and consistency), instead of the truth which is that yucky feeling is just this hole I have that my depth with Him used to fill. We have to lead our heart to the Living Water and drink! It doesn’t have to look the same everyday, and it is okay to use whatever resources we need. It took me forever to realize that it was okay to use a devotional or Bible Study workbook instead of just the Bible. I have not depended on other believers much on my journey, but I am learning to! I believe if I move one inch in the direction of God–one page of my Bible, one moment of surrender, one verse of praise–He runs a mile to greet me and help me awaken my heart to Him.
So just like Daniel prayed in the morning, noon, and night–whether we’re just now taking a step out of our home at 19 or 33 year old stay-at-home-momma like me or a 59 year old Grandma, we are all in the same boat! If we want to know the Lord, we can’t expect Him to burn a bush! I am challenged to do something 3x a day, even if it is just for 5 or 10 minutes, to direct my heart, soul, mind, and strength to God. A verse to memorize. A praise CD in the player or on Pandora. A podcast. 3 paragraphs from a book by an author you know is diving into the depths of God. A short prayer walk. The answer of how to get “close to Him” again is never out of reach. He put the desire for that in us in the first place.