T wenty-Five has come both slow and fast for me, like riding a bicycle up a hill and then whooshing downhill. The ride up was filled with the desperate teenage zeal to be an independent adult. Yes! I remember it all too well. Looking back now, I feel I’ve pushed against gravity and pedaled my way to hilltop of nineteen totally unprepared for the change in pace.
The next six years felt like a year or two, unable to get my brakes to work or reverse my clock to wake up twenty again. I sometimes wish I had a DeLorean from the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy and could travel back in time and do so many things very differently.
But, in all these years, grace has sufficiently guarded me and the Counselor has faithfully guided me away from the dead end of my sin and foolishness and has kept me alive and secure in His hands. In view of God’s masterful work in leading my life away from death and turning every wrong decision and suffering situation into a testimony, I can see more clearly that it was all for my good. So, yeah, I guess I won’t be needing the DeLorean.
TWENTY FIVE FEELS DAUNTING
Yes, twenty-five is no small thing. I am at the prime of my life with the strength and alertness of a young body and mind. I can surrender before the good plans of my Master and run these initial laps well.
At the same time, twenty-five in so many ways seems so small a thing to be boasting about. Surely it is by His grace and for His glory that it stands praiseworthy. But when I, like so many of the brothers my age, look to older men like John Piper and Tim Keller graced with sixty plus years of faithful ministry and an ever growing passion for the gospel, we have to also face the hard reality that many who run this race have succumbed to sin and have eventually walked away from the faith. Many others, instead of being conformed by the gospel, have conformed the gospel to suit their personal interests and ended up believing and preaching something other than the gospel. In several of these cases, I have seen leaders in their forties and fifties, who have been in ministry for close to twenty years, suffer shipwreck with regard to their faith.
It counts as much or more
how you finish the race and
not just how well you start
A wise pastor in my old church used to remind us that it counts as much or more how you finish the race and not just how well you start. If not for a fearful and trembling surrender to this mighty God who wills and works for His good pleasure, if not for the assurance I have from observing the work of God in my life these twenty-five years, it is easy for any young Christian my age to give in to anxiety and a feeling of hopelessness.
If grace be responsible for bringing me thus far, then grace will carry me on.
God willing, I too may have a long road ahead of me and my prayer is simply to love and obey Jesus more and more.
MID TWENTY TEMPTATIONS
I have no quarrels with Paul’s advice to Timothy to flee from youthful lust. Especially an unmarried young man like me. The three tough struggles that men in their twenties face are sexual purity, pride and love for money. Of course there are many other temptations but these seem to be the most common, and sexual purity, without doubt, is the toughest battle.
After repeatedly listening to John Piper’s sermons, I can almost hear him shout ‘Make War!’ at every tide of temptation. As I train in prayer and meditation of God’s word to have a wartime spiritual mindset, I can see how the enemy uses different strategies.
One such predominant strategy is to convince me that certain small sins are not worth fighting; “A white lie is never going to harm anyone” or “Sin in secret and no one will know or be hurt by it”. O the danger that lie in such deception! These sins not warred against are like time bombs. They may not cause much visible damage now, but they will fester in your soul, leading you astray and then betray you. I have seen leaders much older and experienced than me fall into sin that disqualify them from their ministry precisely because they allowed certain sins to go unchecked.
SUFFICIENT GRACE TO ENDURE THE RACE
Looking forward, I found it encouraging to read John Bloom’s article on him turning fifty, the age I will be in another twenty five years. In fact, I modeled this article after his. I was moved to read how he speaks of fifty as being the same diligent pursuit of godliness, fighting against middle age temptations and seeking grace to endure the race. It was especially sweet for me to realize that although much of my surroundings or struggles may change, the Christ in me will never change. The very desire and pursuit of God that the Holy Spirit cultivates in me, will motivate me with sufficient grace to endure this race to the many years that God wills for me. Now, at twenty-five, I need Him desperately and I know that at fifty, I will still be needing Him desperately.