Our world is obsessed with youth and beauty. Lots of money is spent each year on beauty products to keep us looking young and agile. According to one report, the beauty industry is valued at an estimated $532 billion and experts claim those numbers will rise each year.
Our obsession isn’t surprising when you consider the cultural narrative in which we find ourselves. The narrative claims the good life is reserved for those who are young and beautiful. We see this narrative on our movie screens. We view it on our social media feeds. We hear about it as we work, shop, and engage with our friends and neighbors. It feels impossible to escape and is one of the reasons we spend so much time in front of the mirror. Yet, if we live long enough, any amount of youth, beauty or strength we possess will pass away, despite our best efforts to retain it.
So, here’s a question: If youth and beauty flee, is there a way to properly prepare so as not to lose our joy in its absence? I believe there is a way. I also believe the way is biblical and allows you to enjoy your youth while you have it. So, don’t worry. You don’t have to live like a hermit in order to pursue a relationship with God. You can have fun while being young and in love with the lover of your soul.
Remember Your Creator
In the book of Ecclesiastes, the Teacher says, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). The Teacher continues by using metaphorical language to describe all the ways our bodies will decay and our latter years become burdensome. The key to living well now and into the future is contained in these verses.
Ecclesiastes rightly suggests that you and I remember the one who created us so that we may grow in at least two areas.
First, we need to acknowledge that we are created beings. We have a “Creator.” We did not create ourselves, which means, there must be a purpose for our life. Think of a painter or an architect. When they design a work of art, be it a painting or a building, they have a specific purpose in mind. It may be for the enjoyment of others or to simply turn a profit. In either case, there was a goal in the mind of the creator. The very same thing is true of God, our Creator. He created us for His glory (Isaiah 43:6-7). We need to remember Him and His purposes so we can live into all He has for us. If we live into anything other than the plans our Creator has for us, we may have fun, but at the end of the day, our lives will be wasted.
Second, when we remember our Creator, we recall all the ways He has been faithful to us over the years. If we continually reflect on God’s faithfulness, we will not be shaken when the days of trouble come. God has always been faithful and good. How much more so in our time of need?
Notice how the verse does not say “if the days of trouble come,” but rather, “before the days of trouble come.” Did you catch it? It assumes troubling days are ahead. In other words, we can guarantee suffering in this life. In fact, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In The Days of Your Youth
There is a wise reason why the Teacher says we need to remember our Creator in the days of our youth. When we are young, it’s easy to be distracted by the excitement of passing pleasures. It’s also easy to believe that our body belongs to us. Death is so far away from our imagination that we live as if we’ll never die. But the Bible tells us that, if we are Christians, our body does not belong to us (1 Corinthians 6:19). In fact, we are called to die to ourselves so that we may enter into a new kind of life (Matthew 16:25) — a life more real than the one we leave behind. By remembering our Creator, as the book of Ecclesiastes suggests, we can have hope today and hope into the future.
When I was young, I didn’t have a place for a creator. I created my own path and decided what was right and wrong as I went along. Looking back, my youth could have been far more productive and fruitful if I would have acknowledged my frailty and need for a savior. I’ve learned that it’s not the accomplishment of my dreams that matter, but rather, the accomplishment of the things He wants to work through me that truly count.
The biggest problem with youth is its ability to keep ones focus on fleeting pleasures rather than eternal truths. If you keep your attention on the good stuff of youth, your life will become miserable once deterioration sets in. We all know older people who seem eternally grumpy and callous toward everything and everyone in their life. The problem is, they failed to remember their Creator in the younger years choosing instead to trust in their own strength and ability.
You will grow weak and find it difficult to do things that are second nature to you now. Instead of bouncing out of bed in the morning, you will have to exert extra energy to push through the pain of a sore back and tight joints. It makes me think of Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s crucifixion, where he said, “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18).
If you build your life on anything other than Jesus, you will be found lonely and hopeless when the days of trouble come. Learn to remember your Creator now so that you will remember your Creator then. His grace awaits you.