The Future Of The Youth
THE FUTURE OF THE YOUTH
In October 1957 I was only about 1 1/2 years old. But I remember one night my father picked me up in his arms and took me out to the front lawn of our house on Gurley Road in Edison New Jersey. We looked up at the sky together in the dark Autumn dusk. My father pointed at something moving among the stars and said something. I don’t recall what it was but something very special was happening that night. We were in fact looking at Sputnik, the very first satellite ever to be launched into space by the Russians that month. Of course I didn’t know it but in a small town in West Virginia, a town called Coalwood, there was a boy named Homer Hickam who was also looking up at Sputnik. Watching that tiny speck of light travel silently across the sky changed his life forever. After he saw it he became very, very interested in rockets. He started to try to make rockets of his own. Some of his earlier attempts were disastrous. At one point he even blew up his mother’s vegetable garden. So he moved his project out to an open area outside of the small mining town where he could build a launching pad. A couple of his buddies joined him in his adventure and they started their own little space agency. They read books about rocket propulsion. They tried replicating designs that they saw in textbooks. And over and over again they tried to launch rockets. And over and over again they failed. Homer’s father was not in favor of such a hobby. He reminded Homer that once grown up he would join the ranks of all the other men of Coalwood in the coal mines. That was his destiny. But slowly and surely, with the support of caring counselors, and lots of study they were able to begin building rockets that would occasionally shoot up short distances into the sky. At one point they decided they must learn calculus so they learned calculus. At another stage they were able to get the help of one of the engineers at the coal mine to build them a specific kind of nozzle for the engine for a rocket. And one day they were finally able to launch a rocket up to 14,000 feet. Eventually Homer grew up to become an aerospace engineer. He designed the rocket engines that propelled the space shuttle into earth orbit. It’s a fascinating story detailed in Homer’s autobiographical book, “Rocket Boys” which was also made into a movie called “October Sky”. I like the story because it tells how a young boy discovered his future. There are many other similar stories that we could tell. Many wonderful biographies show how young people discover and find their destiny. In all of these stories there seems to be a common thread. First there is a dream. Then the dream grows into a desire. The desire drives determination. And then the determination propels to the destiny. Dream, Desire, Determination and Destiny. Let’s explore these things today as we think about the future of our youth. Do you have a dream? A vision? Is there some aspiration or hope that you have in your heart or mind? Being a great musician? A scientist? An influential statesman? A surgeon? A police man or woman? A writer? A preacher? A missionary to unreached people? A shop owner? A business owner? A CEO? If you don’t, then perhaps you should be concerned. Having a dream is not just for a few special people like contestants on The Voice or America's Got Talent. According to the Bible, not having a dream or vision about your life could be a very serious problem. Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).
If you are experiencing depression or you feel like you have no direction in your life this may be a result of not having a dream. If you are experiencing these things then I can share some simple and practical advice based on teaching in Joel chapter 2. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. Joel 2:28 This verse states that a result of the out pouring of the Holy Spirit is that young men will have visions and older men will dream dreams and daughters will prophesy. So the Holy Spirit is the source of dreams and visions. Therefore there is a solution for those who do not have a dream. You can follow these three simple steps:
1. Ensure that you are born again into a relationship with Jesus. 2. Recognize and be sensitive to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your life. 3. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a dream or a vision for your life. I absolutely guarantee you today, that if you do these three things, the Holy Spirit will give you a vision for your life. The Apostle James said, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5 KJV) Furthermore, we can learn from Psalm 25 that we should expect that God will guide us and speak to us as we go through life. God guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.... Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He (God) will instruct him in the way chosen for him.... The LORD confides in those who fear Him; He makes His covenant known to them. (Psalms 25:9,12,14) Before proceeding further into this topic we should pause to think about what a God-given vision for your life looks like. A God given vision is not a selfish vision. God never leads us to places where we ourselves are magnified, glorified or blessed for our own sake. Psalm 67 says: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us— so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. “(Psalm 67:1-2 NIV) When God blesses us it is for His glory. Now, just having a dream is not enough. The dream must grow into a motivating desire that leads to action. Otherwise it is just a fantasy. Walt Disney is famous for his imagination and creativity. Perhaps there is no one who has created so much memorable experiences, movies and animations as Walt Disney and his entertainment empire. Walt Disney famously said, “ if you can dream it, you can do it. Dreaming is not enough. There must be sufficient desire to exert effort to make the vision or dream come true. You must do something. Proverbs 12:11 says “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.”
And there can be consequences.
Proverbs 28:19 “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.”
When I turned 16 my friends were all getting jobs at the local supermarket, or in local retail stores or landscaping, or other such jobs. I was slow to get employed and I told my friends that I was looking for a job where I could do certain things that I liked doing. I was looking for my “dream” job. One of my friends laughed at me and told me that I needed to be realistic and just get a job! This advice, given in a very mocking way, drove me to accelerate my search and get a job sooner, rather than later. The New Jersey inventor, Thomas Alva Edison once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Isaiah 32:8 says, “But the noble make noble plans and by noble deeds they stand.” So people with integrity do not just have empty visions, dreams and fantasies, but they make plans and then execute the plans. The plans become deeds. But while we are pursuing our dreams with all of our desire there will certainly be obstacles. Family challenges, conflicts with friends, complicating circumstances, accidents, tragedies, or difficulties may all come our way. Therefore, determination is essential to successful execution of the dream. In a famous speech on Sept 2 1962 President John F Kennedy told US citizens that we would regain our position as the most technologically advanced nation in the world by sending a man to walk on the moon within ten years. He said, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” It was a difficult journey and some died along the way but we walked on the moon in July of 1969. In the early 1500’s, in Germany, Martin Luther was taking a stand against certain practices and theologies of the Roman Catholic Church. This led him to a trial in the city of Worms that was to determine whether he should be executed for his proposals, which some considered heresy. He stood bravely and declared:
“Your Imperial Majesty and Your Lordships demand a simple answer. Here it is, plain and unvarnished. Unless I am convicted of error by the testimony of Scripture or (since I put no trust in the unsupported authority of Pope or councils, since it is plain that they have often erred and often contradicted themselves) by manifest reasoning, I stand convicted [or convinced] by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God's word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us. On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me.”
Today the place where he stood is memorialized with bronze shoes and visitors are challenged to stand in those shoes and to confess with determination their faith in God’s Word. On August 28 1963, in the USA, Martin Luther King Jr declared that he had a dream.
“ I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression , will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today........”
But he did not just have a dream, he worked tirelessly to bring the dream into reality. He had determination. He led peaceful marches in Selma, Birmingham and other cities and even though he and marchers were arrested, abused, blasted with fire hoses, etc. they kept pressing on. In the end MLK’s dream became a reality but he gave his life on April 4, 1968 for the dream. That is extreme determination. The same can be said for Jose Rizal. As he had become a spokesman against the Spanish domination of the Phillipines, and was recognizing the risks associated with this, he said: "I consider myself happy for being able to suffer a little for a cause which I believe to be sacred. I believe further that in any undertaking, the more one suffers for it, the surer its success. If this be fanaticism may God pardon me, but my poor judgment does not see it as such." Rizal was arrested en route to Cuba via Spain and was imprisoned in Barcelona on October 6, 1896. He was sent back the same day to Manila to stand trial as he was implicated in the revolution through his association with members of the Katipunan. Rizal was tried before a court-martial for rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy, was convicted on all three charges, and sentenced to death. These three are all examples of people who had a vision and were determined not to let go of it, even if it meant dying for it. There are thousands of such stories that we could tell and we should be eternally grateful for those who have sacrificed their lives to abolish slavery, fascism, totalitarianism, genocide, etc and to establish freedom, justice, compassion, etc. Just a brief note here to recognize the fact that most of the 10’s of thousands of men who courageously sacrificed their lives on the beaches of Normandy, or Leyte, or Okinawa, or other strategic points in WW II, in order to thwart massive, fascist empires, were in fact only 18-20 years old. We should also remember that 11 of the 12 dearest followers of Jesus Christ, His disciples, all were condemned and killed because they followed him. These are just examples of extreme determination and commitment. The intention is not be depressing in any way, but rather, inspiring and thankful. Thankful, because others have made enormous sacrifices in order for us to be receiving the blessings that we have in our lives. Inspired, because others who have gone before us have proven that perseverance and determination can bring good results. Finally, regarding determination, we can be confident that God can give us all that we need to bring it to pass.
As your dream grows into desire and you engage with determination, you should begin to see that your life has now acquired a trajectory. Your vision now foresees a destination and you may be able to see the steps or the route to that destination. Note that “destination” and “destiny” have the same roots. One of the finest biographical accounts that exemplifies the concept of destiny is the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis.
1. Joseph had a lot of dreams when he was young. He was the youngest of his brothers. In
some dreams he saw his brothers bowing to him. This angered his brothers so much they wanted to kill him. Genesis 37:5-11 2. Instead of killing him they sold him as a slave to foreign traders. Genesis 37:19-28 3. He was dragged to a foreign land (Egypt) and sold as a slave to a government official.
Genesis 37:36 4. With God’s blessing he conducted himself with excellence in every job he was given. He earned the respect of his master. His master’s house prospered under his care. Genesis 39:1-6 5. He was falsely accused and imprisoned. (Genesis 39:6-20) 6. In prison he conducted himself with excellence in every job he was given. He earned the
respect of the warden and was given a leadership role in the prison. (Genesis 39:20-23) 7. Joseph had a gift for interpreting dreams. He alone was able to interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh. Because of his wisdom he was promoted from prisoner to “Deputy Pharaoh”, the second most powerful man in Egypt. (Genesis 41:1-37) 8. Because of his intelligence and his ability to hear God giving Him instructions, Joseph
saved Egypt from a 7 year drought. (Genesis 41:46-57) 9. Because of the drought Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food and they
bowed to him and eventually he revealed himself to them. (Genesis 42-45) After this very touching scene, Joseph, without any malice or resentment towards his brothers, said the following: “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt”. (Genesis 45: 8-5 NIV) So we can see the hand of God in Joseph’s life.
1. God gave Joseph dreams, 2. God gave Joseph a desire to honor Him. 3. God gave Joseph the determination to thrive in severe situations. 4. God brought Joseph to his destiny in order to bless the children of Israel. The prophet Daniel’s life parallels Joseph’s in numerous ways. He was forcefully removed from his country and his family as a youth. In spite of this trauma he continued to devote himself to living faithful to the Lord and full of integrity. He was an interpreter of dreams and thus became very influential to numerous kings who occupied the middle eastern empires. God highly blessed
Daniel by giving him visions and interpretations that are among the clearest that we have regarding our future. In both cases, and in many others we can see men and women arriving at a destination in their lives that had an eternal impact on them, their contemporaries, on us and on all the people coming in the future. Someday will the history books contain stories of your life and how you changed the world because you followed a dream with passionate desire and a determination that drove you to your destiny? If this happens then be sure that the history books also record the fact that God made it all happen.