“Youth is not an excuse. It is fact.” That is the way Wally Hall ended his sports column several Friday’s ago. His remarks were a reflection on the complaints of some that Arkansas lost their SEC season opener to Texas A&M. Some of the problems leading to that loss, he explained, were part of a young team’s learning curve.
Youth have so much potential they often can coast and get by; for a time. Unfortunately, when one crosses the age divide to older, sometimes referred to as youth envy, they realize they must use the ability still possessed to its fullest or fail. If only more youth would realize the blessing of using their potential to the max instead of coasting! How much more could they accomplish? And, they would have far fewer regrets after they crossed the age divide.
People of faith are not immune to this malady. Often is heard the well-worn refrain “Christianity does not make a difference in life”; why bother? G. K. Chesterton responded, however, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”
There is nothing in the teaching of scripture that suggests being forgiven and “saved” is all there is to being a Christian. To the contrary, spiritual formation requires hard work. Such talk is not about earning a ticket to heaven, but responding to the heavenly grace which leads not just to heaven, but life to the full on earth. Christianity describes abundant life not as the absence of pain and abundance of pleasure, but rather joy and a sense of significance in spite of life’s tragedies and problems.
Winning in life requires embracing pain and struggle with the sure confidence success will come; albeit not always as we would prefer. Winning requires more than simply showing up. It requires discipline. The disciplines of giving, worship, prayer, divine reading, Bible study, and faith sharing must be joined with other ancient and often forgotten practices such as solitude, silence, fasting and scripture memorization.
The inexperience and thinness of knowledge attributed to youth; tragically, characterize many older adults. Remember Chesterton’s words, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” The failure of youth due to the learning curve is wrenching but understandable. The failure in the mature years due to the same simply is tragic.
Fewer regrets and blessings multiplied await those disciplined enough to look for the way through instead of an excuse for failure. We are not alone in the struggle. “I am with you always,” Jesus said. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”