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On a New Start in Life

A. T. Schofield

Plain Papers for Young Believers

Our readers are necessarily divided, with regard to this subject, into two classes— those who have started in life, and those about to start. It is for the benefit of the latter that we especially write. There is no doubt that the most critical moment for a young believer is when he is called upon to make a start for himself, to begin a voyage across the great ocean of life, with apparently no hand on the tiller but his own; we say apparently for reasons that will be seen further on.

The Start

To start is a very real thing, but may take place actually in a variety of ways. To young men, for whom we now write, it occurs when the well-thumbed lesson books are finally laid aside, and he goes to the factory or the office for the first time, or the apprentice gets his first instructions in the future trade, or the high school graduate leaves home to go to college. That which makes the act so serious is not the mere fact that the steps which were only yesterday directed to the well-known school, are now turned to the office, the factory, or the college, but that the boy [1] has all at once sprung into the man. It is true that at times he seeks to blossom into the “genus homo,” even at school, but this is distinctly premature. But when once a boy enters a profession, a trade, or any other calling, and begins to fight the battle of life, he justly expects to be considered and regarded, at least, a young man.

The Dangers

Herein lies the chief danger for the young Christian. Up to this time he has taken all that his parents have told him for granted. He has steadily attended the well-known church, chapel, meeting, or Sunday School, where he first learned the value of the blood of Christ; and, shielded in a comfortable home from temptation, he has caught, hitherto, but stray glimpses of the sea of wickedness without. But now comes the time when his principles are to be tested. He is sent away to a strange city, he lives in lodgings, he is thrown among a set of godless, careless, and often immoral young men; he is surrounded on every side with new and strange temptations. Oh, how many dear bright young believers have made shipwreck of their faith on these fatal rocks which are met with on first sailing out of the harbor of home! The first month at a time like this, very often has a great influence on a young man's life for years to come.

How to Meet Them

If being forewarned and therefore forearmed, he leaves his home a bright, happy Christian, prepared to stand for God, and test, in a fiercer fight, the strength already gained in many a little skirmish at school; if he firmly believes in the truth that if the devil is resisted, he will flee from him, and shows his colors at the first opportunity at his work and in his leisure hours; if on the first night in his lodgings he opens his Bible, and, after reading God's Word, prays to his Father in heaven, the victory is as good as won. In the first place, he is at once saved from a thousand temptations by showing his colors, for the really vicious at once shrink away from an openly declared Christian, and will seldom long trouble a man who at once stands up against them. In the second place, the stand he has taken, to a certain extent commits him for the future, and makes his life comparatively easy in the days ahead. Third, he having honored God, God will honor, protect, and strengthen him.

We Have a Father to Guide Us

But now there is another matter, and it is this. We spoke of the young man starting on the voyage of life, his hand apparently holding the tiller, and guiding the ship. Now many a young man, and even a young believer, thinks that this is not only apparently, but is really so, and that he is the architect of his own fortunes, and that it is his will that is to direct his future life. Many accept Christ as their Saviour, who have but a very faint idea of what it is to accept God as their Father; and yet the one relationship is as true as the other. And if the one makes them happy for eternity , the other is certainly the secret of true happiness for time . There is a wonderful difference between the young man who goes forth rejoicing in his own strength and sagacity, and thinks that he can outwit the world, and the humble Christian who leaves home placing the tiller of the little vessel of his life into his Father's hand, and trusts Him to guide him aright through the dangers and difficulties of each day. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Do not think that any detail of your new life is too small for God to guide you in. The choice of your business, of your future home, of your companions, should all be entrusted to Him; and He will greatly own and honor such confidence, and lead you in the very best path . For it is folly to suppose that if we have a loving and all-wise Father, He would or could do anything else. The poet's words are indeed true:

“All that God does, or suffers to be done,
That we ourselves should do,
Could we the future of our lives as clearly scan,
As He does now.”

The Bible Our Chart

Start then in life with a definite trust that God will guide , and though you apparently are steering the ship, get all your orders from above, so that, after all, it is His hand, not yours, that is really holding the tiller.

One other word and we have done. A ship requires a chart and compass as well as a rudder. Now the Christian's chart is the Word of God, which shows him his course plainly down here, telling him that his first object should ever be, under all circumstances, the glory of God; that he is left here for this very purpose, not to please himself, but Christ. The compass is the conscience, instructed by the Word of God, that tells me in an instant when I am out of the true course.

Make a Good Start

We would again entreat every young man just about to sail out of the harbor, to make a good start . If he wavers at first, or yields a little for the sake of peace, he will not get it; but, on the contrary, he may be drawn on, little by little, from bad to worse, until no outward sign of Christianity is left at all. A bold front at first, saves a great deal of trouble and fighting afterward. Be sure, however, that the trust is not in your own strength but that every step is taken with prayer and dependence on God. As for the future, leave that with your heavenly Father, seeking only to live each day more truly to His glory than you did the day before. Such a course is worth a hundred sermons, for who can tell the mighty power of the unconscious influence exercised by a consistent Christian life?

[1] While most of the comments in this chapter refer to young men, the same general principles also apply to young women. Ed.

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