Someone asked me knowing what I know now what I would tell my sixteen-year-old self if I could go back in time.
Sixteen…Driving…High School…After school job…Kansas Bible Camp…Debate/Forensics (speaking tournaments not CSI type stuff)…Youth Group…
I was the “good little Christian girl.” I carried my Bible to school. I helped lead a Bible Study (held off campus on Thursday nights). I spent summers working at Kansas Bible Camp. I went to church every Sunday and since my church was too small for a youth group I went to Topeka Bible Church on Sunday nights for youth stuff. I prayed at See ya at the Pole events.
I looked great on the outside. Oh, but I missed out on something. Somehow I thought I was smart enough to figure out that I needed God. Everyone who hadn’t figured out they needed Jesus were less intelligent than me.
I stood in judgment of those who were not following Jesus. Instead of extending grace, I looked down. Instead of considering someone’s story, held them accountable for what I had experienced. Surely everyone heard of Jesus, surely they should know. I did not realize the depth of my need. Instead I decided who was worthy of God’s love.
I fear I pushed more away from God than towards Him. I behaved like a self-righteous Pharisee and I looked great on the outside, while on the inside I was a rotting corpse. I missed grace and mercy. I read James and didn’t apply verses like:
“Act and speak as those who will be judged by the law that gives freedom because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:12-13
I am grateful that God’s mercy extended to even me. I have since become aware that I am helpless and hopeless without Jesus. I am aware of the ugliness of my sin and my desperate need for grace and mercy. Since God has made me aware of this, I am more able to offer mercy and grace to others.
How about you? What would you tell your 16 year-old self?