I encountered two things online this week the reminded me of my younger self and hope that they strike a chord with some of you too. Once I started following Jesus as a teenager I was all in—I was intensely devoted. I took the words of Jesus as literally as possible and became consumed with worshipping God and serving others. Oh, the joy of being young and free!
The first thing that reminded my of my youthful zeal was watching this video from the Community of St. Anselm, a group of young adults who have accepted an invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to live a monastic life patterned around prayer, study, and service for a year. They commit to step out of the demanding schedule of the world and instead live “a year in God’s time.” And this week as the primates of the Anglican Communion have met to discuss some of the most divisive issues of our day in an attempt to preserve the unity of church, the Community of St. Anselm has been in constant prayer.
Take a few minutes to hear their prayers. What a gift to the church! And yet, I am secretly so envious because now that I am a wife, mother, and employed adult I know I am unlikely to ever have that kind of uninterrupted time of service to God.
The second thing I read was an article called “Passion Revisited: Remembering When I Was Radical for Christ” by Sharon Hodde Miller who revisited her youth by going to the Passion Conference which was recently attended by 40,000 students who committed themselves to worshipping God and living radically on mission with Jesus. Like the author, I too attended Passion as a student many years ago and was struck by the way my spiritual life has changed since then. Hoode Miller writes:
Now a married mother of two, I have learned that family will be one of the great tests of your commitment to Christ. This lesson surprised me, because family has a naturally faith-deepening quality to it. Marriage and children shift your priorities, and they force you to trust God in entirely new ways.
However, I noticed this too: somewhere along the way, my generation went from reaching out to the riskiest, darkest corners of the earth to being afraid of putting our kids in a below average school district. Somewhere along the way, we went from counting our lives as nothing to counting our kids’ lives as everything. We went from witnessing to the “kingdom come” to setting up our own little heavens on earth.
Youthful passion for God is good and yet I know that I will never turn the clock back to those days. Single-hearted devotion looks different as you mature but it is no less intense or meaningful. Hodde Miller challenges us, “How you spend your days will determine where you are, and who you are, in 10, 20, or 30 years. So give your days to Jesus. Give time to love him and love his people, every day. Radical faith—truly radical, world-altering faith—starts very, very small.”