Open Letter to 18-25 Year Olds: The Fallacy of the Straight Line (the Audacity of the Scribble)

Dear 18-25 year old,                                                                                                       

I know it’s kind of awkward getting a letter like this from me, either because you have no idea who I am, or you find it strange that I would write random letters to whole groups of people….I can see your point.  I only know that I’ve had the opportunity to spend more time with your age group (not that I am too far away from it!) and there are a few things I feel like I need to share with you before you go any further.

These are not new ideas and you probably know all of this already, so just humor me and keep reading. What I’m about to say is written from a heart that believes in you, or more importantly, believes in what God wants to do in your life….if you will only learn not to fear the scribble (yeah you need to keep reading if that’s going to make any sense)

Most of us love straight lines. We like to make plans, set goals, create situations, and then we like to see those plans, goals, and situations play out, exactly as we planned, goaled, and created (goaled is a word to me).

What we secretly long for in our lives is for every plan we make to have a line that moves from point A (where we are) to point B (where we plan to go).

Like it or not, while straight lines exist on paper, they can rarely be found in real life. But this truth does not keep us from trying.  So you plan to graduate from High school and move on to the college of your choice. You graduate in 4 years and then you get married, to the spouse of your choice. You immediately move in to the career of your choice and soon you buy the house of your choice. Then the dog (the test baby) and if that goes well you have a child (the real baby) and so on and so forth.

we take comfort in straight lines

we love them

we have faith in them.

And then you don’t get in to your college, or you graduate without a spouse, or you move back home with your parents, or no one is hiring, or you are not doing the kind of work you really want to be doing. There is a tragedy in your family, or you struggle to have children. Suddenly we start to see the fallacy of the straight line. If we were to map out our lives it would look more like a scribble. A scribble has loops, it rises and falls and goes backward and forward and even diagonally. It looks messy and yet beautiful at the same time.

Now you must plan and even talk about and work toward your hopes and dreams. But even those plans must come with the understanding that for every time your life moves from A to B, it will move back to A, and then over to C, only to move around to B again.

I think about a guy from the bible named Joseph.

Joseph was loved by his Father, and blessed by God. But follow the path of his life. He gets betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery – not exactly A to B. He gets to Egypt, and eventually rises in the ranks, becoming the CEO of Potiphar’s house. What’s next? He gets solicited for sex by his owner’s wife! Next she frames him, and her husband throws Joseph in prison. God’s hand is on him, and eventually he leaves prison and becomes second in command of Egypt.  To make things more complicated, Joseph has a run in with his jerk brothers. when he finally reveals himself to them, this is what he says:

And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. Genesis 45:5

God sent him? The betrayal? the pit? Slavery? Egypt? The Sexual advances? The lies? Prison???? This was God sending Joseph to Egypt to be in a position to save his family? Seems like God could have moved Joseph from A to B and avoided all the mess.

Later, when Joseph’s Father had died and his brothers were expecting revenge, Joseph reassured them by saying this:

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:19-20

We want to run from the scribble in our lives, assuring ourselves it is not God’s plan….unless it is. Unless in the middle of the loops and rises and falls — right in the middle of all of the scribble there is God, shaping and forming our hearts, so that at the end of the scribble we are at the right place, at the right time, to be used by God to glorify Him, and share life and light with others.

As I finish up this letter, I have 4 final thoughts on this subject I’d like to share with you, but I think I will save those for tomorrow…oh come on….it will be like turning to page 2 of the letter….Just a really long turn.

Until tomorrow, I’d love to get your thoughts, comments, and testimonies on how God has led you in the scribble, and if you’d be so kind as to share this with someone else, that would be just swell.

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One thought on “Open Letter to 18-25 Year Olds: The Fallacy of the Straight Line (the Audacity of the Scribble)

  1. This is really encouraging! I shouldn’t be afraid (like I have been) of not knowing my exact path/career right now. In the future, it will be so cool to look back and seeing how God has orchestrated everything together to bring me…wherever he brings me. In the meantime, I hope I trust God to change me, grow me, & glorify himself through all the twists and turns.

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