$550I’ll be honest with you. When I sat down to write this article, my intention was to write on boldness. I was going to stress to you how much of an opportunity you have in high school to share the Gospel. I was going to share how wonderful it is to be surrounded by people who are more interested in hearing different opinions than doing what is politically correct. I was going to try and help you understand what a unique situation you are in and, while you will certainly have evangelistic opportunities in your future, you will likely never be in such a ripe field again.
A few weeks ago, someone passed away. He was a year out of high school and had been an exceptionally talented athlete. He had even been offered a full scholarship to play football at a Division 1 college. For whatever reason (and rumors abound so I am unaware), that opportunity he was given did not pan out and he returned home. According to news reports, this individual with such an incredible future died as he was shot in the back due to a $550 drug deal gone bad.
The news reports referred to him as a “man”. At 19, I suppose that is technically true. He was old enough to vote, old enough to smoke if he wanted to, old enough to serve his country in the military. But all I can think of is how young he was and how a once bright future no longer exists.
I never met him and I don’t know the decisions he made that started him on that path. I don’t know if it was a poor choice of friends or family influences or some other outside source. I have no idea what the beginning of that storyline was. But I, along with everyone else, can pinpoint the end.
Every day, we all have life and death choices to make. Some of those are bodily, physical choices. Drinking and driving can lead to death. Smoking can lead to cancer. Premarital sex can lead to STDs. Getting involved with dangerous people and bad situations can lead to a cold, cruel death. Those are the biggies. We can see statistics and we can acknowledge that effect they will have. Whether we remember that when alone with our boyfriend or hanging out with a friend we trust who also happens to be drinking is another story. At any rate, if we take the time to think instead of just act, we all know exactly where our choices could lead.
Spiritual life and death decisions are a whole different animal. We can preach baptism for the remission of sins and recite the Lord’s Prayer and tell how Noah called them two by two. Most Christians I know could do that in their sleep. It’s the daily decisions – treating our parents with respect, the “I’m not trying to say anything bad about her but…”, and every single small choice we make that tells God that we value our own happiness more than Him – that really eat away at our souls and cause a cancer deeper than anything that could plague our physical bodies.
Sometimes, Scripture can seem so backwards to our way of thinking. Of course, we know that it is God who is right and we are the ones who need adjusting. One of the hardest concepts for modern man seems to be the idea of life and death. “I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live” (Galatians 2:20). What does this even mean really? As Christians, the idea of “dying to self” so often seems easy to repeat without really comprehending.
“For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:7-8).
In life and in death, we belong to God. In life, we should act like it. We should live it in every choice, every decision, every thought, every action. If we do that, and only if we are willing to fully do that and die to ourselves and our worldly wants, will we really live.
Every day is filled with difficult choices. High school and adolescence only seem to multiply them. Make the right ones. Refuse to be a cautionary tale of someone with so much potential who just went down the wrong path, the one who could have been an amazing worker for the Lord but just couldn’t seem to make the right choices. “What ifs” are some of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to get away from. Don’t risk everything on something as simple as following Him.