Remember the song with the repetitive “N-n-n-n-nineteen”? It told us that the average age of a combat veteran in the Vietnam War was 19. Vietnam War photos scream ‘youthfulness,’ that’s for sure. My father went off to WWII being 10 years older than that. I am sure that the first thought that went through his head when bombs started raining down around him was, “When can I get out of here?” He never spoke of it. He had favourite stories from the ‘good times’ that we heard as children. My mother was his only confidante and resident counsellor. She heard his real stories and listened to his nightmares. What Hollywood doesn’t sugar-coat it glamorises. But strangely, my dad liked the old war movies. I would have to ask a combat veteran why that was. I have no understanding of such things—and for that, I have them to thank from the depths of my heart.
Today, at 19 most are busy either studying or starting a career. Life is good, youth is on their side, and opportunities stretch out before them. Praise God! It is also the age of debate and decision. The days are gone when they believe just because someone says so. But it is still a time to be easily tossed about on the sea of conflicting ideas. A spiritual war rages for the hearts and souls of our young people. Early adulthood is where ideas are hammered out on the anvil of newly demanded responsibility. They are right to challenge your traditions. A true faith must be forged within. Freedom to do so will show their true mettle. Hard persuasion on your part, no matter how sincere, will end in tears—probably yours. Jesus knows what he is doing. He sent the Holy Spirit to convict consciences of sin. The Holy Spirit is continually pointing them to the Saviour, Jesus Christ (24 hours a day). Their job is to choose! Your job is to pray and be godly. If you have been a lousy parent (you’re not alone), ‘Repent!’…and get on with praying and being godly—it is never too late for that. At 19 the real problems of life are raining down around them. The last thing they need is to have the church sugar-coated and glamourized in their hearing. If so, they too will think, “When can I get out of here?” Victory is found only in the Lord’s church. The battle for the soul rages and it must be fought by us all. I know where I was and what I was thinking at Nineteen—’No turning back!’ Thank you, Lord, for my fellow soldiers of Christ who have helped to sustain me. Still fighting…!