At the age of twelve my home life was getting a little rocky. The group of kids I was hanging around with in our community of townhouses were starting to lose their innocence. Tennis, basketball and biking were becoming old activities.
I remember the day distinctively when an older guy approached our group with information on drugs. The other kids were intrigued and stood up from the grass to follow the guy.
Time seemed to stand still around me as I was faced with a decision. I had always told myself I’d say no to drugs. I would not waste my life.
One of the kids looked back and asked “aren’t you coming?”.
“No,” I replied, “I, umm, I need to go home.”
And then I ran.
I ran as hard and as fast as I could.
I would not turn back.
I never saw any of those kids again. That afternoon changed a lot of their paths and they didn’t hang around the same places I did anymore, and I decided not to seek them out.
Giving up my friends in that moment was tough, and lonely. I had one Christian friend, and she lived in Richmond, I lived at the University of BC.
That year before we moved to Saskatchewan was a real challenge, but I have never regretted my decision to run in that moment.
A new friend and I have been talking about the verses where Jesus speaks about losing your life to find it.
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?
When we try to hang on to the things we think are important, we end up losing the most precious gifts of eternal love, joy and peace. Courageously surrendering to God, even if he asks us to give up things we don’t want to, will only result in good things long-term.
While I have found the “big” issues like drugs, alcohol and harmful relationships easy to stay away from, I have found the “smaller” ones to be more challenging.
Galatians 5:19-21 has a lengthy list of sins.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.
God’s list throws all these sins out on the same playing field.
I was able to run from drugs, can I run from unhealthy conversations? I hope I am strong enough now to not have to cut off relationships, but can I be bold enough to speak counter-culture?
Can I let go of music that is bringing me down? Even if I think I’ll miss it?
No person, place or thing is worth me desperately trying to hang on to what God is asking me to let go of. It might hurt in the short-term, but we will reap a harvest of joy.
What is God asking you to run from?
Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.
2 Timothy 2:22