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Are You Elizabeth?

December 11, 2008

A week ago on a flight to Baltimore, Maryland, I sat by Elizabeth and her grandmother. You know how people say that the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the worst travel day of the year? Take my word for it, the Monday after Thanksgiving is a pretty busy day to travel too. As our plane sat on the tarmac, waiting our turn to take off behind about 10 other planes, Elizabeth and I started chatting.

Elizabeth, 19, told me all about her recent trip to Texas to attend a cousin’s military graduation. On this flight she and her grandmother were traveling home from Texas. Elizabeth said she’d had a great time hanging out with her cousin and in particular one of his friends from boot camp. She and her cousin’s friend were even considering starting a relationship. Then the conversation turned to what she was wearing--a new winter coat and a pair of jeans that she’d bought in Texas while shopping with her cousin and his friend.

We talked a little bit about college, and Elizabeth shared that she’d already dropped out—it was just too expensive. Instead, she plans on joining the military in about a year. All of her family members have done time in the military, and she’s already decided that after she makes it through boot camp, she’s planning to become a boot camp instructor.

Out of the blue I asked her, “So, how much do you allow God to weigh in on your future plans?”

Our conversation took a whole different direction as Elizabeth opened up to me about her broken family and her recent experimentation with drugs, alcohol, and living on her own. After her high school graduation, she’d moved out of her dad’s house and into a trailer with a bunch of her friends. She spoke of how she and her friends had gotten drunk and smoked a lot of pot. But then she said that a voice inside her kept calling her away from that lifestyle.

“I think it was God,” I told Elizabeth.

“I think you’re right,” she agreed. And she went on to explain that during some moments of clarity, she figured out that she needed to move out of the trailer, back into her dad’s house, and give up her wild friends who where costing her big bucks. “All in all I think I probably wasted like $15K on living with my friends and covering the cost of our bills and parties,” she said. “Getting out of that situation and giving up those friends hasn’t been easy,” she admitted. “Now I’m trying to keep my 17-year-old sister from making the same mistakes.”

We talked about Elizabeth’s relationship with God. “It was strong—at least it used to be,” she told me. “I don’t think it was an accident that we’re sitting together on this flight, today,” she said. “I’m going to go back to church when I get home.”

Are you Elizabeth, I mean, are you struggling with the same issues? Are you trying to get away from friends who are getting wasted and wasting your time? Are your parents divorced? If they are, are you stepping in and trying to be kind of a parent to your siblings? Are you looking for a direction for your life? Do you hear God’s inaudible voice calling out to your heart?

Like Elizabeth, many of you that I’ve met while traveling for Insight, or while reading your stories that you’ve submitted to Insight, or while chatting with you on theFlow, you’re having to make big decisions about how much your friends are going to impact you, you’re juggling relationships with significant others, and you’re wondering where your life is headed when it comes to your education and career. Here’s my request of you: please let God weigh in all these decisions. Psalm 32:8-10 says: “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.’ Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord” (NLT).*

*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ã 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

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