The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

The Pursuit of God: Guidance for Teens

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Suppose you know a pair of brand new parents. When you go over to their house and they bring out their little bundle of joy to show you, suppose you were to take the baby in your arms and try to leave the house with him. What do you think the parents would do? They would rush to stop you of course, and the father would demand to know what you’re doing.  Suppose you were to say, “I’m taking your baby away for twenty years. I know you find him boring now, so I’ll bring him back when he’s an adult and more interesting to you.” How do you think your suggestion would go over?

Have you ever had someone tell you that God just isn’t that interested in you because you’re just a teen? If so, you need to realize that the people who told you this had no idea what they were talking about. Just as human parents would freak out if you tried to take their baby away from them, God gets extremely mad when He hears teenagers being told that God just isn’t that into them. Of course God is into teens. He is very into teens.

You are not like some frozen dinner in the microwave that is useless until it’s done cooking. You are exciting to God right now. It’s right now that He wants to kick His relationship with you into high gear. You are never too young to establish your very own relationship with God. Physical maturity and spiritual maturity are two totally separate things. Physically, you are not an adult yet. But spiritually, you have the ability to surpass many adults in the area of spiritual maturity.

Spiritual maturity has nothing to do with how smart you are, what kinds of grades you get, or how old you are. Spiritual maturity is about how well you know the God who made you. Most adults don’t know God very well at all. Although they are physically adults, they are spiritual infants. The serious pursuit of God is something most people just don’t bother to try. They figure He’s just not worth it. They figure it will take too much work or it will take too long. People who think this way end up missing out on the whole point of life. God created you to know Him. Your relationship with Him defines who you are.

WHO YOU ARE

You are more than the body that you see in the mirror. Your body is just your earthsuit—a machine you’re using to get around in this physical dimension. The real you is the soul that is dwelling inside your earthsuit. When you die, your soul will leave your earthsuit like a pilot ejecting from his plane. Your soul is the only part of you that will go on to eternity.

Now even though a man is not a car, when a man is driving a car down the road, he and the car have a relationship with each other. When the man presses his foot down on the accelerator, the car responds by speeding up. If something goes wrong with the car’s steering wheel and it locks, the man is very affected by the way the car starts sliding all over the road.  In the same way, your soul and your earthsuit have a relationship with each other.  Your soul is constantly reacting to the things your earthsuit does, and vice versa.

Your earthsuit is like a really smart car. Your earthsuit has a mind of its own and a will of its own. Your earthsuit cares about two things: feeling good and staying safe. When someone tells you that it’s really fun to get high on drugs, your earthsuit sees an opportunity to feel good and it wants to try the drugs. Your earthsuit doesn’t think very far ahead, it only cares about feeling good right now. If your girlfriend starts putting her hands all over you, it’s your earthsuit that will pressure you to go ahead and have sex with her. When your earthsuit decides that it wants something, it has many ways of pressuring you to give it what it wants. But remember that you are not your earthsuit—you are the soul inside the suit. So when your girlfriend is feeling you up, your earthsuit is saying, “This feels great! I want to have sex right now!” But your soul is saying, “This is going too far—I need to get out of here before I do something wrong!” Your soul is the part of you that cares about morals. Your earthsuit couldn’t care less about right and wrong—it only wants to feel good and protect itself in the present moment. When you get too close to a campfire, it is your earthsuit that warns you to move back before you get burned. When you find yourself wanting to know more about God, that’s your soul talking.

When you are riding with a friend in a car, do you talk to the car or to your friend? You only talk to your friend. In the same way, when God is relating to you, He talks to your soul, not your earthsuit.

Now just as a car reacts when its driver turns the car’s steering wheel, your earthsuit reacts to interactions between your soul and God. Praying is a soul thing—it is when you and God talk inside your earthsuit. But in church, praying feels like a body thing—you hear yourself forming verbal thoughts in your head and it seems like you’re praying with your physical brain, not your soul. Well, this is actually an illusion. Those verbal thoughts that you form in your brain are actually delayed broadcasts of things your soul is saying to God.

Imagine that your parents are in their bedroom having a conversation. You’re trying to eavesdrop, so you’ve got your ear pressed up against the closed door. But your parents are talking quietly, and you can only hear pieces of their conversation. This is what is happening when you pray—your physical brain is eavesdropping on what your soul is saying to God and it’s translating a few of your soul’s comments into verbal words. You see, your soul doesn’t use words to talk to God. Your soul isn’t a physical being like your body is. Your soul is something totally different—it doesn’t show up on an x-ray, it isn’t a solid shape like a bowling ball. Yet it is very real, and it is the real you. Is all of this weird? Yes, very, but it’s the way things really are.

Now why is it is so important to understand the difference between your soul and your earthsuit? Because your earthsuit is the thing that you associate age with. When you talk about growing up, you’re talking about changes in your earthsuit. In this world, people assess you based on your earthsuit capabilities. When your dad praises you for being good at sports, he’s praising you for earthsuit things. When it’s easy for you to get good grades in school, that’s an earthsuit thing. Your brain is like the engine of a car—your brain is the thing that runs your earthsuit. Not all brains are equal. Just like there are weak engines and powerful engines, some brains are considered very smart while other brains are labeled as slow or even dumb. But no matter what kind of brain you have, your brain is part of your earthsuit. What part of you does God relate to? Your soul, not your earthsuit. This is why it doesn’t matter how smart or stupid you think you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re athletic or klutzy. Your earthsuit and your soul are two entirely different things. God is in love with your soul, not your suit.

GOD CALLING YOU

Now let’s talk about where your interest in God comes from. You didn’t always know about God—there was a time when you never thought about Him at all. Then one day you started to think about Him and wonder about who He was. What caused this change to occur? God did.

No one can begin to have a relationship with God until God calls them. When God starts calling someone, it’s like having your friend text you on your phone. When you get a text on your phone, you hear the alert, you read the message, and then you decide how you’re going to respond. In the same way, when God starts calling you, your soul gets the message, your soul knows that the message came from God, and your soul then decides how it wants to respond. Here’s a key point to understand: whenever God speaks to your soul, your soul always gets the message. There’s no such thing as missing a message from God. People think this can happen, but that’s because they don’t understand how their relationship with God works.

Okay, so how did you get to the point where you are interested in the topic of God? Well, first God said something to your soul. Your soul received the message, and it responded positively to God. Whenever God speaks, your soul only has two choices: it can agree with what God is saying or it can reject what God is saying. Your soul doesn’t have the option of pretending it didn’t hear God. You can play these games with your mother and act like you didn’t hear her telling you to take the garbage out, but you can’t play these games with God. Your mother can be tricked because she can’t see inside you. But God knows you inside and out, so you can’t ever trick Him into thinking you didn’t hear Him.

At some point in your life, God started saying to you, “I want a relationship with you.” At some point, your soul said, “Yes, I want that too!” This is when you became consciously aware of a desire to know more about God. Because your brain doesn’t translate everything God says to you into verbal thoughts in your head, when you suddenly find yourself thinking “I want to know God,” you think that’s your own idea. But what you’re really experiencing is your soul responding to God. Why is this important? Because you need to understand that God wanted you first.

In your relationship with Him, God always makes the first move. This is why no one can say to you “God isn’t interested in you.” The fact that you want God is your hardcore proof that God wants you. No one wants God on their own. We are all responding to things that God is saying to us. So does God want you? Obviously, He does. And once you understand that the Creator of all things is coming after you personally, how cool is that? God wants you—this is something that no one can take away from you. And given the fact that God is coming after you now as a teenager, it’s pretty obvious that He likes teens, isn’t it?

GOD’S VIEW OF TEENS

When people don’t like something, they focus on the negative. People who don’t like dogs complain about how dogs bark and how they have to be walked and cleaned up after. People who like dogs talk about what great companions they make. It’s a difference of perspective. It’s true that dogs do bark and it’s true that they have to be kept up after. But how important this is to someone depends on how that person feels about dogs in general. A general dislike of dogs makes all dog chores seem like a really big deal.

Now there are a lot of adults in this world who have a general dislike of teenagers. Because these people have already decided that they don’t like teens, they focus on the negative. They talk about how rebellious, loud, and rowdy teens are. They talk about how foolish and shortsighted and stubborn teens can be. Everything about teens is negative to these people because they dislike teens.

So what about God? How does He view teens? God really, really, really likes teens. Because He likes teens so much, God focuses on the positive about them. He sees that teens are going through a very exciting and important transition in life. It’s during the teen years that you start really thinking about who you are and what makes you different than everyone else. It’s during the teen years that you start questioning all of the things you’ve always taken for granted and you start feeling very confident in your ability to make your own decisions. This is a perfect time for you to begin your serious pursuit of God. It’s now that you’re trying to figure out who it is you want to be. God wants you to decide that you want to be all about Him.

YOU & GOD

What’s really exciting about your relationship with God is that it is entirely yours. Your parents can’t do anything to influence how God views you. God forms His own opinion of you and how He views you doesn’t have anything to do with how your parents or teachers or peers view you.

Another really cool thing about your relationship with God is that it is totally private. No other human can hear your thoughts or eavesdrop on what your soul is saying to God. Your communication with God is secret. You don’t have to share anything that you don’t want to share. It’s like you and God have your own private club and no one else gets to come in. He is with you everywhere you go, He is with you all the time, and He completely gets you.

Feeling misunderstood is a huge frustration during the teen years. Suddenly your parents start to seem a lot dumber than they used to be and it’s hard to find role models who you can really respect and trust. The teen years are filled with intense passions. A lot of things become super important to you, and often it seems like adults are scoffing with a “you’ll get over it” attitude. Well, when you’re in the middle of your first big crush or your first heartbreak, you don’t want to hear about how this is “just a phase”. You need to feel like someone totally gets what you’re going through. God is that someone.

No one understands you better than God does and you’ll never see the day that He blows you off or says you’re asking a dumb question. While adults can quickly become frustrated and irritable with you questioning everything, God welcomes your questions. God wants you to be totally honest with Him about your concerns, your doubts, your curiosity, your desires and your fears. God hates fake. He has no use for you pretending that you feel one way when you really feel another. In the secret conversations that go on between your soul and God, He wants total honesty all the time.

When it comes to getting and keeping the approval of other people, we often feel like we’re on shaky ground. Does your dad really love you or is he just basking in the glory you bring him by scoring touchdowns? Do your friends really care about you or are they just hanging out with you to get help with their homework or because they know you’ve got some cool toys at home? Maybe you’re the kid no one wants to eat with at lunch. Maybe you’re the kid that no one wants to go to the dance with. People reject and accept you for really lame reasons. But with God, you’re on much firmer footing. God doesn’t need anything from you. He doesn’t need you to think He’s cool. He doesn’t need you to agree with Him about everything. He doesn’t need you to help Him run the universe. God isn’t hanging out with you because He has nothing better to do. You are not His last resort. You aren’t just filling time for Him until a more interesting offer comes along. God wants to be with you because you are His creation.

The situation between you and God is totally unique. God didn’t stumble across you one day and then get stuck with you. No court system forced God to take custody of you. God chose you. There was a time when you didn’t even exist—a time when no one knew your name. Things could have stayed like that. God didn’t have to make you. He made you because He wanted you to be. He still wants you to be. Every time you breathe in, and every second your heart keeps beating, God is saying, “I’m keeping you alive on purpose because I want you to be.” Maybe you feel like your parents view you as some kind of burden. God says you’re His treasure. Maybe the kids at school don’t like you. God says He loves you deeply. And when God says He loves you, He’s saying that from a position of totally knowing everything about you. That makes His love a whole lot better than anyone else’s.

People don’t totally know who you are. People can only ever sort of know you. God has fixed it so that no one else on the planet can ever know you like He knows you. This is why you can still feel alone even when you’re hanging out with your friends. Deep down we know that other people don’t really know us. And deep down we fear that if they really knew everything about us, people would reject us. This makes us feel distant from them—like there are certain walls between us and others that we can’t ever tear down. But between you and God, there are no walls. He knows absolutely everything about you and He still loves you. He still wants a relationship with you and He says that no one else can take your place in His heart. God won’t ever leave you to hang out with the “cool” kids. His desire for you is an informed desire. He knew all about who you were before He came in pursuit of you and He still came.  So with God, you’re on firm footing. With God, there is a foundation of love and acceptance that you can really count on. When other people leave you, God always stays. When other people turn against you, God remains by your side.

Another important thing to realize about God is that in His relationship with you, God is on your side. He’s not on the side of your parents or your pastor. God doesn’t gang up with adults against you. When He tells you to do something, He’s telling you what will be best for your soul in the long run. The sooner you learn to start asking God to lead you in life, the better. When you get in a fight with your mom and she’s asking you to do something that you don’t want to do, go somewhere that you can be alone and ask God what He thinks. God is the One you can always trust to give you the right advice. Sometimes His advice will line up with what your parents are telling you to do, but when this happens, it won’t be because God is just siding with your parents against you. God is always on your side. God wants you to trust in His love for you.

When we first start out, we naturally see God as an extension of our parents. If your father is some demanding nitpicker, you think God is like that. If your mother is always nagging you, you expect God to do the same. If nothing you ever do seems good enough for your parents, you assume that God is also impossible to please. But God is not just another version of your parents. God is not even a human being. God is totally different than anyone you’ve ever met and everything about Him is better. The way He loves you is better. The way He leads you is better. God is a positive, encouraging Guy. Sure, He can be tough. When you rebel against Him, you can count on God to give you the boundaries and discipline that you need. God isn’t some spineless doormat who you can walk all over. God isn’t some foolish Santa Claus who you can con into blessing you. God is impossible to manipulate, trick or bribe. God doesn’t offer to just be your buddy in life. He is your King, your Master, your Father, your Teacher, your Protector, and your Friend all rolled up into one. God doesn’t beg you to respect Him, He demands it. But He’s also super easy to succeed with. If you really want to succeed with God, you will, because He’ll make sure it happens. He’ll teach you everything you need to know. He’ll guide you through each day step by step. Towards those who really want to know and please Him, God is extremely patient, gracious, kind, and encouraging.

RESPONDING TO THE CALL

Earlier we talked about what it means for God to call people. God starts calling people to Him at all different times. He starts calling a lot of people during the teenage years, but most teens blow Him off. Instead, they decide that there’s plenty of time to get “religious” later. They think that a serious pursuit of God is an adult thing and something that teens just don’t do. Well, to think like this is very foolish.

God is a very secretive Guy. He doesn’t bribe and beg you into pursuing a relationship with Him. He doesn’t list out all the benefits you’ll receive if you go along with Him. Instead, He just calmly invites you to pursue Him. If you say yes, He has awesome plans in mind for where He wants to take you. But He’s not going to spell it all out for you in advance. You’ll have to just take one day at a time and trust Him. Many teens decide not to do this, so they put God off. But if you’re smart, you’ll jump at the chance God is giving you and ask Him to make you all that He wants you to be. Ask Him to make the two of you as close as possible. Ask Him to become your First Love. Pray big. Dream big. Don’t settle for smalltime. Don’t think of yourself as “just a kid”. You are so much more than a kid—you’re a soul who God is personally pursuing. The Creator of all things is inviting you to know Him in a special way. It doesn’t matter how young your earthsuit looks in the mirror. God is calling you now and that means that now is when He wants to get started. You’re not too young. No one is ever too young to pursue God. If you understand all of the things we’ve talked about in this post, you’re already farther ahead than most adults are when it comes to understanding how God relates to us. Your journey with God begins in the privacy of your own soul, as you reach out to Him and say, “I want You. I want us to be as close as possible. Take me there.” If you can honestly pray a prayer like this, God will take care of the rest.

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