The Days of Youth

Billy Graham preaches at a Youth for Christ rally in the mid-1940s. He became well-known for the intense, passionate way that he delivered the Word of God.

In recent history, young people have been used both to save and to destroy nations. And today, all over the world, young people are filled with energy, eager to change their generation.

Today’s youth cannot make plans as our generation made them. Theirs is a different era, an era filled with danger and menaced by storm clouds on the horizon. Unless we solve the problems of our generation, the world will pull itself apart. We cannot wait any longer. Young people are afraid. They are insecure, and they are searching and rebelling.

Every year, thousands of teenagers descend on Fort Lauderdale, Fla., during spring break.
One year, the gender ratio was running about 10:1 in favor of the boys, and the boys turned their attention from girls to pranks. They nearly tore the town apart. The mayor asked if I would come and talk to the young people. So I went and stood on a platform built right on the beach, and the young people all came in their bathing suits—10,000 of them.

As I talked to those teenagers, I didn’t observe any disrespect. None of them made fun of me. There were no hecklers. They listened! And I thought to myself,Someone has failed these young people. Who is it? The government? The home? The schools? The church? Who?

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I am not sure that teenagers are worse today than they were when I was a boy. We used to do a few things, too. Adolescence in any generation is a transition period. In my opinion it is the most difficult part of life, because as you approach your 20s you are making the most important decisions of life. You are deciding whom you are going to marry. You are deciding your credo and your philosophy of life.

Thousands of young people have found a cure for the frustrations and contradictions of adolescence; they have discovered an answer to the problems of boredom and insecurity and sex through accepting Jesus Christ and His way of life. They have found a peace, a security, a happiness, a zest in living.

Young people today are living in an insecure world, and they are groping for anything that gives them a feeling of being in a safety zone of familiarity or tradition. In the big cities, youth are organizing in gangs for security. On a college campus, the quickest way to security is through the crowd. Precisely where students talk about being independent and on their own, you will find them practicing the most rigid conformity in dress, in speech, in moral attitudes and in thinking. Sometimes they follow fashion at the expense of integrity. They dread being alone. They do not want to stand out or be different. They want to conform.

After they graduate from college, many of these young people want nothing more than a good job and a home in suburbia. But they don’t find security then, either. Only Jesus Christ can give them the security they are looking for. Without God as the center of life, they will become confused and insecure. A teen singing star once admitted to a reporter that he was “the loneliest man in the world.”

No happiness, no peace, no joy, no challenge, no purpose, no drive.

Jean-Paul Sartre, the French existentialist philosopher, said, “You will never find peace and happiness until you are ready to commit yourself to something worth dying for.” Let that something be Christ! Give your life to Him and let Him be your Lord and Master.

Let Him rule your mind and your heart and your will. Go out under His banner with love in your heart, standing up for moral righteousness, studying the Bible, praying, marching. Let Him capture your whole personality.

The Bible tells us that all of us have broken God’s law. If you have ever told a lie, you are a sinner. We are sinners from birth. Let’s admit it. We deserve the judgment of God, but Jesus Christ came to save us from that judgment. And when He died on the cross He was saying, “I love you. I will forgive you.” Then, when He was raised from the dead, God was saying to us, “The same power that raised my Son from the dead is available to every one of you, to give you capacities you never had before, to help you to resist temptation, to enable you to meet life head-on, with purpose and meaning.”

Many young people look upon their parents as bores because they offer advice. But the Bible teaches young people: “Obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20, NKJV).

Parents, on the other hand, are to set an example. Sometimes parents wake up to find they have lost control of their children because they did not take charge early enough; they did not set the proper example; they did not take time with their children; they did not give love; they did not have patience; they did not give discipline—or compliments.

Following Christ is a hard, rugged life. There is nothing easy or sissy about it. The moment you come to Jesus Christ you enter into the thick of the biggest warfare in the universe. It is a battle every day. And unless you go out every morning with the Word of God in your heart, you are going to lose this battle. A disciple means a “disciplined one,” and that is what we are to be. It is tough and it is hard.

Do you know what Christ means when He says, “I am going to die. Will you go with me?” He means that you are to go back to the high school campus, to the university campus, to your friends, to your community, and live for Him no matter what the cost. If you mean business, you may lose some of your friends.

Yet there is happiness in the Christian life. The Apostle Paul said he could be content wherever he was—in jail, in a shipwreck. A hard life? Yes, but a happy one. You will find contentment in following Christ, because it is God’s way—and the only way.

You may complain that this is a narrow point of view. You may be on a road that you may think is dead right, but God says it is dead wrong. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV).

On Jan. 1, 1930, in the Rose Bowl at Pasadena, the captain-elect of the University of California team picked up a fumbled football and began to run. He thought he was right. He was the sincerest man you ever saw. But he ran toward his own goal line and lost the game to Georgia Tech.

You may be headed in the wrong direction. I am asking you to come God’s way. I am asking you to say, “By God’s grace, I am willing to let Him forgive my sins. I am going to surrender to Christ. I want a new life. I want a new direction with purpose and meaning.”

You say, “I am afraid that I have already failed.” All right, let me tell you what to do. Ask God to forgive you. He will. When the woman taken in adultery was dragged before Jesus, He did not condemn her. He gave her a hope that she could face tomorrow without sin. He said, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11, NKJV).

Christ will forgive all the past. That is why He died on the cross. When those nails went into His hands, it was for you. He took the judgment, the hell, the death, the suffering that you and I deserve because of sin. Ask God today to cleanse and forgive and change you, and give you the capacity to say “No” and to live a pure, wholesome life—the kind of life God meant for you. If you wait, your heart will harden. God is speaking to you. Come to Him now. ©1964, 1996 BGEA