Congratulations! You have worked hard and long, stayed up into the night to complete your tasks, enjoyed time with your friends and now you are looking back and soaking it in. You pause in these last hang-outs with friends for just moments and think, “Wow. This really is it!” You know that your heart is in the business of choosing a path. It likely will not be a path from which you cannot re-trace your steps, because much of the joy of youth is that there is abundant time for a do-over.
Still, little by little, you will choose. A pattern will begin to emerge from what looked like a crazy jumble of yarn in the beginning. Your story will take unexpected turns—some that you never would have chosen, and at least a few that take your breath away.
Some would say that times have changed; that life is harder now than it was in the past. Because you are a young man of the Word, you know that Biblical times dressed sin differently, with its pagan worship, but that the expressions were the very same sins we see today. Paul and the apostles consistently warned against conforming to these sins that are obvious to those who are awake—sexual impurity, drunkenness, greed, selfish ambition, vain conceit, hard-heartedness. True followers of Jesus lived differently, not just adding a thin veneer of Jesus on top. These standards have not changed!
And so, I challenge you now as I have many times before. Root yourself deep in the Lord. I don’t care what the rest of the world is doing, you be a soldier for Jesus. The standards your dad and I have set for you set you out on the path to freakdom. You feel the strain of pulling in a different direction, and you will feel (as you already have felt) like a weirdo as others watch your choices to treat with kindness those who are rejected by others, your purity of speech, your way of only speaking the Name of Jesus with the reverence of one who serves Him, your readiness to share the gospel. You look and smell different. As life goes on, you will do campus outreach when others are watching Netflix, you will go to worship practice when you know you could really use some more study time, you will continue to take time to show kindness to someone everyone else ignores. In lots of little ways, you will set a standard that others see as extreme and unnecessary. They may even insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all sorts of evil things about you. Rejoice and be glad, because a great reward awaits us! (Matt 5:11). Your life will be set on a trajectory that little by little, with each decision to put the Kingdom of God first, you will mark out a path that will be rich and adventurous and the kind of life that leaves few regrets. And you WILL be a weirdo. It runs in the family.