A friend of mine’s 13 year old daughter experiences a confirmation ceremony at her church soon. She asked me to write a letter to her. I felt honored and really humbled to be privileged like this. In one of those moments where you look back and go, “Thanks, God, I know that was You,” the words poured out of my heart to her, quickly. I feel led for some reason, to share what I wrote with you today:
I remember being about your age and being taught by my mother that “religion” was to be of my own choice. She grew up in an ultra-conservative, rules-based church, and as soon as she was out of her parents’ house, she walked away from the church until very recently – she’s 82 this year.
As a result, I never once attended a church service with my family of origin. At age 11, when I was searching, they sent me up the hill behind our house to a Lutheran church. I didn’t know to dress nicely. I didn’t know they had a kids’ service. I sat in the back row of the adult service and thought, “This is God? I don’t get it.” I never went back, even though I had emptiness about me I couldn’t identify.
I didn’t know I was searching for God, and so I tried to fill the hole we all have inside us with everything but God. My husband, at that time, just my friend, started sharing his relationship with Christ with me, and that began my journey.
The thing you and I have in common is that the choice was and still is yours and mine to make. The difference between you and me is that you have the benefit of learning the Truth at a younger age. Another important difference is you have the blessing of a Christian family. Your parents can guide you in your walk with God – as you become a young woman, you will notice you have deeper struggles – I want to encourage you to share those struggles with your mother. She is on the same journey as you are, and has known the Father longer. You’ll find women further along the journey throughout your whole life to be of great blessing to you. Take advantage of those gals. Ask them questions. Share your struggles. He loves you and teaches you through them. If you are like most teen girls, you and your mom butt heads on a few things, but know that sharing your struggles with her will help the two of you connect as sisters in Christ. Her job is to mentor you as you grow. Your responsibility is to take advantage of her wisdom, especially in the area of faith, even if you think she doesn’t know what the currently coolest fashion is. (although as moms go, my guess is yours fits in the “cool mom” category! )
Have you read or seen “The Hunger Games?” It brought to mind an analogy that I think is relevant to today and the time we living in. We can look at this world as though it is a huge game created by God. The goal, however, isn’t to be the only survivor, like in “The Hunger Games.” The goal, instead, is to WIN (get to heaven), and to take as many “players” with you. In the minutia of the moments of everyday life, we are given the opportunity to choose whose team we will advance. There are only 2. We also have a magic Book (the Bible), one that gives us clues as to the “winning” aspect of the game. If we accept Christ, believe He was and is God, and let others know He is in charge of our lives, (Romans 10:9) we are saved. We then learn the Book, and we discover that God will speak to us through it, if we will listen and obey. He’ll then tell us things we couldn’t even possibly know (Jeremiah 33:2,3) if we know Him that well. The neat thing is that if you know Him well, His Spirit (the Holy Spirit) will guide you in the middle of the interactions of every single day. His Spirit will encourage you to love, be patient, kind, gentle, self-controlled, perseverant, choose joy and peace, and be good and faithful, and strong and fearless about your relationship with Him, and doing the right things for righteousness sake. The neat thing is that He loves you, even though you’ll mess up every single day, and other people will see Him in you, through those interactions, if you will do what He asks of you. It’s really cool. Then they will have questions about you and that will help you talk about Him – and then they become part of “His team.”
The problem is that there is a competing team. It’s run by a rebel (satan), and he has a goal, too. He wants to take you to hell, and have you influence as many others as possible that direction. He doesn’t want you to believe the Book is absolutely True, but rather “just a good idea,” or a “guideline,” that is “outdated,” or even, “completely false.” If your Truth becomes watered-down or relative, you’ve lost what His Truth really is. The Bible is a timeless, living document, but that other guy wants you to believe otherwise so you won’t read it or listen to the advice or commandments in it. He really likes it when you call yourself a “Christian,” but behave in ways that malign God’s Word or His reputation. He hates it when you realize you’ve done these things and apologize to God and the people you have wounded. In the middle of your interactions of everyday, he’s going to encourage you to judge others, criticize, be angry, get anxious about things, be unkind, giving up easily on friends and relationships, and be selfish, and poorly represent God, so that others aren’t attracted to Him or you. He’ll try to convince you over your whole life that real relationship with God isn’t really possible, nor is it worth the effort because bad things still happen whether you follow Him or not. He’ll try to convince you that the game doesn’t exist or matter.
I know all these things are true. I know that choosing to follow Christ is the most important decision you’ll ever make – second only to the little choices you make in the moments of every day as to whether or not you’ll obey Him on “this one.”
If you are ever interested, I would love to sit down with you to share the amazing miracles I’ve seen God accomplish through our ministry and the lives of the many women I know who follow Him. You would be blown away by the things I’ve supernaturally known, the amazing work He’s done, the families He’s turned around with the wives that follow Him and believe His Word. People who really have real relationship with God have wild stories to tell. I mean really crazy, “are you kidding me??!!” kinds of stories to tell. I hope you start collecting your amazing stories. Write them down. Don’t believe in “coincidences.” Look for the miracles. I’ve got tons of them, but I really believe I’m just beginning to scrape the surface of what is possible.
I’m excited you’ve chosen His team. I will pray for you as you begin your steps of faith along this journey. It’s a long and difficult one, fraught with conflict and struggle, no different circumstantially from a non-believer’s life journey. The difference, however, is that you can recognize the “game” you are in, and the side benefits of constant companionship, peace and joy and comfort are there for you in ways they are not available to those who do not know Him. It’s also cool to know that what you do matters on a supernatural level in the day-to-day. And when the last timer buzzes, you can look around you and see the many friends who have joined you in the Victory dance, instead of being led astray by that other guy.
Love to you,