I started this year intending to continue this sort of long correspondence with my younger brothers and sisters in faith. It got derailed for a couple reasons, none of which are important or really significant.
If this were intended to be Profound Theology then maybe the concerns would be worth noting. Think of this rather as words of advice from someone you met along the way who has been walking for a while. It'll be worth every penny you pay for it.
Having just finished reading Tony Campolo's book "Letters to a Young Evangelical" I suppose I feel a little derivative too. I can only offer that my inspiration were Paul's letters, not Tony's. So I guess I'm derivative either way. I recommend both sets of letters for your consideration.
So what's this letter going to be about? How about not being too quick to jump on board the latest passing faith train? There's one thing I've noticed about young people (both now and back in the day). That's the tendency to be hyper focused on the "now". Right now. This instant. Down the road, the future? To be honest when you're young you don't think much about it. Seems like it'll probably take care of itself. What matters is what's happening RIGHT NOW!
The problem is that we tend to make quick decisions under those circumstances. We don't want to miss the chance so there's a tendency to grab at what's right in front of us. History shows the track record for that kind of decision making is pretty poor. It's amazing how often the slick, snazzy looking offer turns out to be really low grade crap in the long run. And that can be shattering in your faith life.
So here's advice from the traveler at the side of the road (Hmmm, maybe that'll be the new title. Won't feel so derivative) Take a deep breath. Take some time to live with it for a while. Be suspicious of folks who press for instant commitment. What are they trying to keep you from seeing? Be suspicious of folks who have secrets. Things that they'll share with you only if you commit first. What are they trying to keep the world from seeing? A decision on what to have for dinner tonight can be made in minutes. The decision on who you are and what path God has laid before you should take years. In fact I'm a firm believer that you never get AN answer to that question. The answer is an ongoing process that stretches from this moment RIGHT NOW into the undetermined future.
What should you do while you're making that decision? Keep going to church. Keep praying. In my next pauses along the way I'll tell you why I think that is important. Quite simply you need to stay involved in the process of making the decision. Take a look at where you are and what you believe. It astounds me at the number of people who never think about what they "believe". Ask questions. Don't be put off by folks who don't want to answer. How they choose to answer will tell you a lot about them. Maybe more than their answers themselves.
But take your time. There's still a lot of road ahead of you.
I'll see you along the way.