“If I Could Start Again As A Teenager”

If I Could Start Again As A Teenager

Wade Webster

I grew up in a small, rural town in Alabama.  There were woods to hunt, lakes to fish, and plowed fields to search for arrowheads.  There were no cell phones. There was no internet.  Pornography was not just a click away as it is for teens today.

I grew up in what is known as the Bible Belt - a belt-like swath across the State of Alabama and the South where religion was especially strong. It could have been called the Bible Belt for other reasons also.  After all, the Bible and the belt were the strongest deterrents to sin and stupidity in the region (Prov. 22:15; 23:13-14).  Almost every home had both and used them regularly.  I know that mine did.  I was blessed to grow up in a strong Christian home.  My dad was an elder.  My mom was a stay at home mom.  I wasn’t homeschooled, so I did experience the bus and other dens of depravity, but my exposure to evil was pretty limited.  I was wise to what was good and simple concerning evil (Rom. 16:19). We had a wonderful preacher who presented clear, Bible-filled sermons each week.   We had great men come to hold gospel meetings.  We had Bible classes that really were Bible classes.  We had a good youth group with a good man who worked with us.  The congregation was active and loving.  We had regular fellowships and outings.  I couldn’t have had a much better environment in which to grow up.

There aren’t even many things about my choices growing up that I would change.  Don’t get me wrong.  I wasn’t perfect; but, all in all, through the guidance of my parents, I avoided many of the youthful lusts that tripped up others (2 Tim. 2:22).  I didn’t drink alcohol (Prov. 20:1).  I didn’t smoke, unless candy cigarettes count.  What were my parents thinking letting us purchase them and pretend to smoke?  Though, I never smoked a real cigarette, I did light one.  Before I could try it, I heard my mom coming, and I tossed it out the window.  Thanks mom.  You knew I was being too quiet. I did pester my uncle for some RED MAN one time.  He gave me a huge chaw and told me to swallow it.  Thankfully, I didn’t swallow it, but I did turn ten shades of green before I could spit it out.  I will tell you this, I never asked again.  RED MAN, SICK MAN, NO MAN! I did watch things that I shouldn’t have watched on television and in movies.  I know this because on occasion I have gone back as an adult to watch something that I remembered from my youth and have been shocked and ashamed (Phil. 4:8).  I didn’t go to the prom or other dances (Gal. 5:19-21).  I kept myself pure (1 Tim. 5:22; Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:18). By the grace of God, I didn’t do a lot of the things that I could have done.

Though I wouldn’t change much about my surroundings or my choices growing up, there are things that I would do differently.  Mainly, there are some things that I would do more of if I could start again as a teenager.

First, if I could start again as a teenager, I would Slow Down More.  Young people are generally in a hurry to grow up.  They are in a hurry to drive and to date, to leave home and to go to college, and to meet someone and to get married.  I understand.  I was the same way.  If I could start again, I would slow down more.  I would enjoy being young more.  Youth really is a wonderful time of life.  It is gone too soon.  The Bible compares youth to dew (Psa. 110:3). Like dew, it appears quietly and disappears quickly.  We must remember our Creator when we are young because we will soon be at the end of our lives looking back (Eccl. 12:1).

Second, if I could start again as a teenager, I would Soak Up More. As I already noted, I was blessed with many wonderful teachers - parents, preachers, youth leaders, etc.  I was blessed with countless Christian camps and youth events.  However, I know that I didn’t soak up as much as I should have.  I wish I could go back and listen more attentively (Neh. 8:3). The seed didn’t always fall into good soil.  Sometimes, it remained on the top of the ground, developed no roots, or got choked out.  I didn’t always have ears to hear (Mat. 13:1-23).

Third, if I could start again as a teenager, I would Seek Out More. I don’t think that most young people realize the evangelistic opportunities they have.  I would suggest that at no time in life will they have more opportunities than they have in youth.  If I could do it again, I would evangelize more.  Like Phillip, I would invite my friends to come and to see (John 1:43-46).  I would be wiser and win more souls (Prov. 11:30). 

Of course, I can’t start again as a teenager.  I can only do as Solomon did and encourage you to listen to one who was once where you are.