This morning a young lady, 19-years old, asked me a question, “What would you do if you were nineteen and could do anything you wanted to do in the world? Your parents aren’t putting any pressure on you whatsoever to do any particular thing…WHAT WOULD YOU DO?”
I had to think for a moment. As I processed the gravity and profound implications of her question, I imagined that same question coming from my 13-year old daughter in less than six years! My answer, I firmly believe, would be the same for either of these young ladies.
When I was nineteen I had the honor, privilege and accomplishment of running onto the Div 1 college football field as a wide-receiver with the Arkansas Razorbacks; the University of Arkansas band belted out our fight song and a sea of red-clad Razorback fans screamed wildly!
When I was 20, I marched proudly across the parade deck at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) in San Diego California; meritoriously promoted, leading my platoon and donning the coveted dress blue uniform as my platoon’s distinguished honor-graduate and United States Marine.
I’ve been skydiving, scuba diving, and I’ve bungee jumped from a hot air balloon. I’ve climbed mountains, repelled from great heights, and swam...quickly... across freezing rivers of melted mountain snow. I've slept in a snow cave at 20 below. (actually I think it was more hypothermia than sleep!)
I’ve protected the weak and sought justice for the oppressed. I’ve fired weapons, launched rockets, and battled bullies. I’ve hiked through wild places and fought wild fires in those same spaces; I’ve raced bikes, I’ve run races. I’ve lived hard and I’ve played hard, I’ve reached for new heights and fallen hard from those high places.
I’ve loved well and been loved well. I’ve lost love, found love, fathered amazing kids and married a good woman. I’ve learned lots and even taught a little. I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded but gained more than I’ve lost and I’ve paid really high prices because I took action before counting the cost.
I’ve traveled many miles to exotic places and met really neat people of many different races; from Turkey to Tanzania and from Mexico to Mozambique; Okinawa, Uganda, South Africa, Thailand, Myanmar and more. I’ve floated the Nile in a really small boat surrounded by really big crocodiles and I’ve seen mount Kilimanjaro but only from a distance. From only a few feet away I’ve watched a pride of African lions, with blood soaked fur, devour a fresh kill. I’ve heard the distinct sound of the dominant male's deep visceral purr; drown out by the even more distinct sound of crunching bones as the rest of the pride ate their fill.
Considering all the countries and places I’ve been, all the things I’ve experienced, including youthful recklessness and good-for-the-moment sin, if I was nineteen again, here’s what I would do:
I would seek the One True God with all of my heart. Everything in my life pales in comparison to the incomparable love, mercy, forgiveness and truly amazing grace I’ve found in Jesus Christ. There is nothing like it on this earth, anywhere, in any person, place or thing. By far, this has been the single greatest decision that’s altered my life’s trajectory and determined my future goals, ambitions and aspirations.
What would I do if I was nineteen again and could do anything I wanted? I would trust God with all of my life and not just with my death. His plan, His way, will lead to the greatest joys and expressions of true happiness, love and contentment. In my opinion, these are the things that give the deepest meaning and make a life amazing. I would not lean on my own 19 years of understanding but instead; I would follow God and allow His Word to be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
God’s way, as you follow after Him, will give you an exciting ride of both epic proportions, as well as, eternal significance. His way won’t always be easy but it will be good, even when it’s bad. Not at first though. At first, bad, will just seem like bad, period. But over time, as you know Him more and as you see the bad times through the lens of His love and time, you’ll get it; you’ll gain understanding! You’ll know experientially that in every low time, every desperate time and every lean time, God uses those times for your good and His glory, as He loves His creation through you, in ways you never imagined.
What would I do if I was nineteen again and could do anything I wanted? I would follow Jesus. I would pour all of my energy into knowing Him. I would put all of my eggs in His basket, the one with the five loaves and two fishes that fed 5,000 people! I would follow Him wherever He leads. And as you do this, He will create in you great new goals, new desires and new directions!
These goals and desires will take deep root into your heart, in the spaces where He now lives, and He will give you the desires of your heart!
That’s what I would do if I was nineteen again and could do anything in the world.
In fact, do this at any age, and you will not be disappointed.
For the Scripture says, “whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:11-13
Written By: Curtis Brickley
Husband, father of three great kids. Minister, Missions Pastor and former missionary to an unreached people group in SE Asia. Just another beggar tryin' to tell a whole bunch of other beggars, where they can get some free bread. I am amazed by God's saving grace daily and desperately dependent upon it to keep me saved in my weakness. You can find me on the web at http://textthattransforms.blogspot.com