Being a highschooler comes with a lot of pressure. It’s the invisible kind. The kind of pressure that doesn’t explicitly show itself, but it’s implied. It comes from phrases like: “You have to get your grade up for your transcript or else…” or, “If you don’t do good on your SAT you won’t be able to get into college,” or, “You need to get this certain amount of credits.” Sound familiar? Our parents may not mean to drop a megabomb’s worth of stress on us, but that doesn’t keep us from feeling it. On top of that, I’ve noticed that becoming a highschooler (especially if you are a Junior or a Senior) means that everyone’s go-to question when they chance across you at church is: “Do you know what you want to do when you graduate?”
And it’s true, these awkward four years between kid and adult are a staging ground for the rest of your life. It’s where you learn how to drive, how to manage an impossible load of schoolwork with other responsibilities, and a thousand other things.
It feels like you are walking a tightrope, like your entire future is riding on your next step and your next decision. It’s all up to you to keep your balance. So we get stressed about the future. We want to set ourselves up for success. Our parents want to set us up for success. But what if we mess up? What if we stumble on that tightrope and lean too far to the right? Even worse, what if we fall? After all, if these high school years are so important, what happens if we mess up?
If you look at the Bible, its pages are full of people messing up. And I’m not just talking, “Ooops I left my shepherd’s staff back at home” stuff. I’m talking catastrophic, horrific, ugly mess-ups like coveting someone’s wife and murdering her husband (i.e. David and Bathsheba). Or, Abraham pretending his wife Sarah is his sister and then Abiemelch taking Sarah as his wife. Or, when Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it. I’m not saying every mistake you make is a sin (like the above examples). What I am saying is that God is used to people making stupid choices and doing stupid things– big time. So what did happen when these people messed up?
Well, from Bathsheba and David’s union would come King Solomon, and from Solomon, thousands of years later, would come our Lord Jesus Christ.
Wait a minute, what?
I know. Let’s keep going.
Go back to Genesis and you will see that God sent dreams to Abimelech to warn him of Abraham’s deceit. As a result, Sarah was returned to her husband and Abraham left five times richer thanks to Abiemelech’s lavish gifts. Going back to Moses, despite his disobedience in striking the rock instead of speaking to it, God still used his action to bring water to the people of Israel– as was His original purpose.
Now, let me stop right here and say that the point is not that our stupid choices and sin don’t have negative consequences. Moses’s disobedience resulted in him being forbidden to enter the promised land. Just read the story of David and you will see that his sin brought years of heartache and unrest in the family. And this unrest ultimately resulted in David running for his life from his own children several times. Furthermore, the very first child that David had with Bathsheba died seven days later. It’s a horrible, tragic story of sin, but, even such horrific circumstances as that did not hinder God’s plans from being fulfilled.
So, the point is instead that God was able to work through these people’s mistakes and stupid choices to further His will. In the end, His plan was not hampered by these people’s mess-ups. They were not obstacles in God’s plan to be narrowly avoided. Rather, in His miraculous wisdom, they were actually a part of His plan to further accomplish His good purposes, even purposes as wonderful as the coming of the Savior.
I want you to look at Isaiah 13:24-27 with me. It’s a decent chunk of scripture, but it is full of comfort and hope for the believer.
The LORD of hosts has sworn: ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand, that I will break the Assyrian in my land, and on my mountains trample him underfoot; and his yoke shall depart from them, and his burden from their shoulder.’ This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?
At first glance, this is a terrifying image of God’s judgment on the nation of Assyria and the world. But there’s more to this verse than the fury of God’s wrath. For the Christian, there is hope. Every word of this passage rings with a glorious sense of finality. Every letter points to an unstoppable will, an unstoppable purpose, an unstoppable God. If it is in God’s will to accomplish something, you better believe it’s going to happen– and there’s nothing you can do about it.
So now let’s bring this back to you Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior. If you are a Christian, God has a wonderful plan for you– you know that, right? And I wonder, do you also know that that plan is 100% guaranteed to be fulfilled? Nothing you could ever do could be an obstacle to God’s purposes. God is bigger than your SAT score. He’s bigger than missing high school credits. He is bigger than your struggles to manage your time and get everything done. He is bigger than empty college savings accounts. He is bigger than a transcript.
Your high school years are not as important as you think.
They are not important in the sense that, boiled down, they are like every other time in your life. In the high school years you learn new things. But haven’t you been doing that since you were a baby? In the high school years, you have to navigate new paths. But haven’t you had to do that before, like when you learned how to ride a bike, when your family moved, or when you discovered that bullying was actually a thing? In the high school years, you face struggles. But if you are like most people, struggles are nothing new.
I’m not trying to minimize anything you are facing right now. High school is genuinely hard, especially when you factor in the thousands of other things that happen right alongside the stress of school. Take it from a sophomore with chronic illness. What I am trying to do is put your life right now into perspective.
No matter how much you mess up, your future is guaranteed because God’s plan is guaranteed. So yes, work hard. Strive to make wise decisions. Listen to your parents. Pursue growth. Do your best. Care about everything you do. Use every opportunity to bring glory to God with your thoughts and with your actions.
But don’t freak out.
You are not the only one walking this tightrope. The person who walked on water is balancing on it too, in fact, He’s balancing you. You can and you will mess up many, many things. But there’s one thing you can’t touch no matter how hard you try. At this point, I don’t think I have to say what that is. 😉
So, how do you feel about your school year now? Still nervous? Yeah, I get it. But don’t worry, you may not be unstoppable, but God is.
So think on that– and face this year with hope.