The other day, I deleted a song from my iPod because it made me mad. I was in the middle of a run when it came on my playlist and I immediately slowed my pace so I could pay attention to the words (and not to my loud breathing). It’s called “Good Time,” sung by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen, a fun catchy tune that I’ve had on my iPod for a long time now, but I guess I never listened to closely to the lyrics before. Or maybe I never really cared until now.
As I listened, I felt the tension between being a follower of Christ and also being a young person in America. The messages of our culture and the purpose statement they create for my generation are confusing at best. This is the do-as-you-please-when-you-please generation. Get wasted on spring break, throw off all responsibilities, do whatever makes you happiest at the moment and let “YOLO” be your mantra. Live for yourself because nothing else matters, or as the Preacher of Ecclesiastes said, “All is vanity.”
What is a girl, trying to be a disciple of Jesus, to do?
In many ways, it saddens me that people assume all young people are irresponsible, and selfish. In some ways, I feel like I’ve tried to not be defined by the cultural “expectations” for people my age. I’m not sure what people think of me that I spent my spring break at home, and celebrated my twenty-first birthday making quesadillas with my family. But’s that OK, because those times as important to me.
There are still many many ways I operate under a comfort-seeking self-satisfying worldview. Because I want to have a “good time,” I spend money and time recklessly. After all, my carefree days may soon be over. This is probably my last summer without responsibilities — my last summer to do as I please without the restraints of a job. Who knows what may come in the future, so shouldn’t I grab on to this opportunity to be “free” while I have it?
And yet, the more I read the Bible and get to know God’s heart, the more I realize that I am not here on earth to have a good time. My purpose in life extends so far beyond me because I was created to give glory to God. And having being redeemed by Him through Jesus’ death on the Cross, my life doubly belongs to Him. I am His, and His purpose for me is that I would magnify Him with the life I have on this earth.
Jesus did not come to this planet so that we could have a good time with our lives — He came that we might know the best of times. In John 10:10, He says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”. We are actually cheating ourselves if we settle for anything less than a life completely defined by a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the treasure that makes life meaningful and to miss out on that is to miss out on the full expression of my identity
To run after other things, “spiritual” experiences, stuffed closets, impressive resumes — will never fill our deepest longing to be completely satisfied, completely understood. Blaise Pascal said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus”. The dreams of every American young person’s heart are echoes of this greatest desire for God and for His glory to be revealed. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
As I thought about my plans for the summer, I felt God stirring in my heart to make the most of the opportunity to “do whatever I want”. And I realized that I want this life to be more than about me and not just about having a good time. I’ve been so very blessed and have had so many wonderful, carefree, fun summers. But how am I investing my blessings into blessing others? How am I making Christ known and treasured? It’s time to take Ephesians 5:15-16 seriously: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
It’s time to embrace my created purpose — to be a reflection of God’s glory in my world, taking the light of His love and the hope of His mercy to places where He is not known, surrendering my moments and my days “to flow in ceaseless praise”.
That is what I’m made for. And it is nothing less than the best of times.