If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be? Think about it. How many times have you caught yourself saying, “If I had only known then what I know now”?

Seriously. What would your lying-on-your-deathbed self have to say to your just-graduating-college self? Would you tell yourself to spend more time at work? Would you tell yourself to blow off your friends and family in order to score that high-paying job? Get a bigger house? Drive a nicer car? Kiss a few more butts along the way?

Would you tell yourself to spend more time watching TV or playing video games?

Would you tell yourself not to spend so much time doing church stuff?

-OR- Would you tell yourself to make the most of every opportunity to spend time with God and those you love?

I found an interesting article expressing the top 5 regrets of those who are dying as recorded by a nurse in the UK. You can read the full article here, but here are the top 5 regrets:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Take a moment to let those sink in. Just how many people live their lives doing what they hate just so they can go on living, that is to continue doing what they hate? Life is confusing enough as it is. Why make it more confusing and complicated by trying to wear masks all the time or by trying to go it alone?

In Ecclesiastes 12 we come face to face with an old man in his last days. Okay, it doesn’t say that directly, but the context fits. He’s looking back on his life, all the things he built, all the fortunes he gathered, all the parties and business ventures, all the quests to find meaning and fulfillment. He has spent the entire book wrestling with the enigmas of life – joy and happiness juxtaposed to death and heartache. How can we possibly begin to manage all the ups and downs of this roller coaster life?

If he could go back and tell one thing to his younger self it would be this:

Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

To remember, in the Jewish context, implies action. It’s more than simply bringing something back to mind, recalling a memory. It’s an action done in response to that memory or to strengthen that memory. For example, when Jesus took the bread and the wine, he told his disciples to do this in remembrance of him. They weren’t to simply sit around sharing their favorite memories of Jesus. There was something specific to be done in his memory.

To remember our Creator is to do something. It’s a life-shaping remembrance. We act a certain way and do certain things because he is always at the forefront of our minds.

Your Creator:
The enigmas of life only begin to make sense when we remember that God is the one who created all things. God is still in control. Not only that, but when all the authority systems around us become corrupt and oppressive, we can know that there is an authority above all other authorities. He’s not just our boss, he is our Creator. And as Creator, he has the right and the ability to call all the corrupt and oppressive systems of the world into account.

Remembering our Creator is the very foundation of our lives as God’s people. We honor him not because he demands it but because he deserves it. We worship him not because he needs it but because we can’t help but proclaim his worthiness.

In the Days of Your Youth:
Beginning this early in life is the key. Sure, we can become children of God at any age, but the earlier we start, the more likely we are to become lifelong followers. But it’s more than just going to church and sitting through Sunday school and VBS. The key is to develop the disciplines necessary to cope with life even when creation begins to crumble around us.

It’s very much in line with another proverb: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” That’s not a guarantee but it is a principle.

I’ll have more on this later, but I’ll leave you with one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies: