Spring, what a beautiful time of life! All nature has been roused from the dead of winter’s sleep. Bleak, barren, fields are again ear petted with mossy green. Forests are alive with the chirp of feathered songsters as they gaily hop from limb to twig. Babbling brooks go singing along as frozen ponds are changed to mirroring pools.
With nature all astir with life, how can man be left unstirred? Impossible! Old and young cannot react alike to the stimulant of spring’s new life. Here some prod in a little garden plot; there another turns furrow upon furrow on seemingly endless plains. Here the seed is carefully planted inch by inch; there the whir of a machine speedily drills in bushel after bushel. Thus hope is renewed, ideals climb high—spring’s dawn promises more than all the yesteryears; for spring is the time of life—spring is a time to plant.
So, too, there is a springtime in our life. A time when life knows naught of winter’s death; neither of barren fields or futures bleak because of an eye that is dimmed and spirits gone. A time when life is new and young and fresh, the body strong, the mind alert, when the spirits are high and tasks seem play. That time is—YOUTH—the time of life—the time to plant!
As the green world of the forest and the fields are under the dominion of God’s law of seasons, when life is new and strong and we must plant, so, too, our lives are under a similar law. There are seasons in our lives when certain things must be done, and can be done most fittingly and with the greatest success. And for us the secret of success is the discernment of those God-given seasons in which we must accomplish certain duties, and—the prompt performance of them.
What could be more important, therefore, than to discern in what season of our life God has arranged for us to plant? It is wisdom on the part of any man, woman or child to know the season of life in which one must prepare oneself for one’s task and calling; when he must labor and toil to lay up ability and energy to be able to do his duties successfully when once he shall be stationed at his post in life.
Nothing of value develops of itself. Great men of the world do not gain their achievements by simply watching and waiting, wishing and woulding. The old proverb still holds true in all spheres of life: “wishers and woulders are poor housekeepers.” Men and women of fame have toiled tirelessly to gain their end. Men of invention have taxed their mind to the verge of insanity to perfect their inventions. Before any harvest, comes the time of patient planting, while the manner of sowing and the quality of the seed shall also determine the future harvest, for: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
The planting time of man’s life is youth. Youth contains the years best suited for the preparation of our calling. The years between childhood and one, two, and three twenty years will for almost every young man or woman determine their history. What the young man makes of himself tod-ay and what the young woman makes of herself to-day—that he or she shall be in the years of tomorrow. When young, one should remember in all one’s activities that there are things, very important things, which, unless one does them now, the overwhelming probability is that one will never do them at all; and the certainty is that later it will be done half as well.
The reason for this is that youth is that season in life when one can acquire and accumulate very easily for one’s needs in future years. The Lord has so created man that in these years he can learn easily and quickly. And not only this, but he retains what he has learned when young. Life itself proves this truth: Set down a man who has never learned his alphabet, to learn his letters, and see what a task it is for him; or if he takes a pen in his hand for the first time, look how difficult the stiff wrist and knuckles find it to bend. Listen to the aged recite the poems they learned in their youth, but notice too, that the happenings of today are forgotten.
Youth, too, is the planting time of our life because there are no old and false ideas and practices which must first be gotten rid of to make room for the new and the true. Someone has correctly remarked: “An old person’s mind is like grandmother’s home, if you give her a bit of new furniture she must first rearrange or get rid of some of the old to make room for the new.”
If you are in the planting season of your life it may be well to ask, what are you planting? Probably some may say: “I’m not planting anything, I really haven’t started yet.” But this is never true. If by the grace of God and through the power of regeneration we are not planting that which is good and right, then it can only mean that the garden of our life shall yield that which is evil. Our life is like any field or garden, if the husbandman does not conscientiously cultivate and plant the good it will naturally yield thorns and thistles. So, too, with you, whether you will recognize the fact or no, you are planting!
Certain it is that we are planting habits, either good or bad. Habits, it is said, “are actions hardened, like the juice that eludes from a pine tree, liquid when it comes out, and when it is exposed to air, is solidified and tenacious.” Or it may be likened to: “a man making a track with great difficulty across the snow in the morning, but every time he travels it the track becomes a little wider, and it is easier walking.” Possibly you are forming the habit of irregular church, society or catechism attendance; or a carefree attitude toward the knowledge of Scripture. It may be that you are getting false ideas which later you will hold for the truth. Such false ideas are easily obtained in some faulty church, society, school or by reading only such material which pleases our carnal desires.
Considering the seriousness of youth, should we not ask ourselves in all sincerity: “am I planting the right kind of seed”?
To answer that question you would first of all need to know what kind of harvest you expect to reap. What is your goal and aim in life? “What do you consider your duty? What are you living for?
For the covenant youth there can only be one goal, one aim in life, and that is the honor and glory of our Covenant God. We do not live for ourselves, but for our God. Therefore, first of all, we should be interested in His Kingdom, the Church of Jesus Christ. And we should now prepare ourselves for our place in that Church. How could we better prepare ourselves for it than by a faithful church attendance, a lively interest in our society, catechism, etc.
Secondly, we should prepare ourselves for our place in everyday life. In youth we often become so careless about this question. Aimlessly we go through school or quit school, or look for a job paying the most or offering the most leisure. Should we not ask ourselves: how can I best serve God with the talents I possess . . . and then do it with all our power?
Let us not be misled with the mistaken notion that godliness and piety belong to old age. How often the remark is heard: “you can’t put old heads on young shoulders”. Referring to some misdeed of the youth it is easily remarked: “Young men will be young men,” or, “They must sow their wild oats.” But let us remember that as covenant youth we have received new shoulders under an old head. For beneath those shoulders there beats a heart renewed by the power and Spirit of regenerating grace. Therefore, though with our mind we may sometimes think that there is joy in the ways of the world, the new life within assures us: “To live apart from God is death, ‘t is good His face to see.” Being governed by that new life, we will walk in newness of life; and through the power of the Spirit of Christ it will become evident that virtue and religion belong to youth as well as to the aged.
As covenant youth let us not permit the cares, the enjoyments, the pleasures and duties of this life to crowd out religion and godliness. It is so easily said: “If I had not so much to study for school, or if I would not be so tired of my day’s work, I would have more time for religion, for church, catechism and society.” Such, remarks reveal only too well that you are putting last things first, and too, that you are pushing godliness and piety to the time of old age or among the medicine bottles.
At all times let us remember that the strength of youth is in the Word of God. Only that Word is a power unto salvation for those that believe, toy it we shall be armed against any temptation, through it we shall be warned against seductive ways, and in keeping it there is a great reward. Now—in our youth is the time to become armed with the knowledge of that Word. It is no time to look for our weapons when the sudden temptation leaps upon us. God’s Word and will should be so familiar to us that we shall be ready at a minute’s notice.
Youth—the time to plant! Let us make use of it through the grace of God! Let us not put it off because it requires giving up some aim or pleasure, but: “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out.” And the promise is ours; “He that will lose his life for My sake, shall save it.”