Sometimes we have to go off on a tangent for a very, very long time before we find we have lost touch with our origin altogether. We may wear our cross. We may even sport a komboskini on our wrists—and that’s more than a mere ‘friendship bracelet’—and still carry on with a lifestyle that is light years away from what we learned in Sunday School. All this we think worth it, in pursuit of a career or a reputation, items that will mean very little on the day we give back the talents to the Lord who gave them to us.
Friends get attracted to us, and we get attracted to friends. Again, pursuing our own desires, ambitions, we hurl ourselves forward to hit our target, to make our mark. Without thinking, really, we just aim and shoot. Sometimes we stretch the bowstring, sometimes others do, but it’s we ourselves who like arrows are shot. The speed of the moment makes us lose all sense of direction. We no longer even know if the target we find ourselves hitting is the right one. Did we ever know? I mean, who chooses the target?
Youth is a very dangerous time. Dangerous because in a sole season we are determining the trajectory of our life path. Dangerous because we are assailed on all sides by hawkers of wares and cares, a mad mixture of friends and enemies, and we haven’t learned yet to tell which is which. Dangerous because we don’t realize that the time of beginnings is brief and that after it passes we may find that we have begun precisely nothing, that though ‘life’ continues we have not begun to live at all. Yes, dangerous.
Years ago, I too was a youth. That short spell remains with me forty years later, shining in my memory as a golden age. Such it is for people and nations. The time of beginnings seems always bright, even when we have wasted it, and in fact, in retrospect, who hasn’t wasted it? Who has made best use of it, wisely taking aim in that moment so that they have hit the target? Very few, I think. Then, we spend the rest of our lives trying to correct, or cover up, or talk ourselves into believing that all is well, all as it must be.
As always, the scriptures speak now as on the day they first appeared, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. ‘Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1 KJV), and we have no taste for them because we know that from the beginning they always spoke the truth, but we wanted to do things our way. Worse than a nagging parent is a God who, unnagging, is still always there.
Always there, waiting. Always there, patient. Always ready to receive. The source of hope because He hopes for us to be with Him, and His hopes are far larger than ours, not in order of magnitude but of degree. He wants us more than we want Him. That’s why He made us. That’s why He created us, not from clay as He did the first man, nor from a bone extracted in slumber as He did the first woman, but from a father and a mother, His right and left hands, who cherished us as He cherishes us, loves us.
Now that the smoke has cleared after a night of fire, pick through the charred ruins for that cross that fell from your neck. Its silver has not tarnished. It still gleams. There is still a little time left. Find your way back. Pick up your cross and return to the path. Youth has not yet abandoned you. Your feet have not yet been fettered, you are still free. Choose the right, choose well. You have only spent a few of the talents entrusted to you. There are more, hidden. Come home to reason, running. I will see you there.