Who has not repeatedly read the well-known words of the preacher, remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have pleasure in them?
But in these times we are inclined to ask, could days ever be more evil than those experienced by our present day youth? Youth is the time for care-free enjoyment of innocent pleasure, for matching strength and skill in games and sports, for dreaming and planning for the future. But youth seems hardly the time for the serious business of warfare, for living in constant dread and fear, breathing the smoke of gun powder, smelling the stench of human blood, manipulating the machinery of destruction and bloodshed; for sitting at home wondering why the letters of their lovers are so long in coming, filled with grave fears about what the future may bring. From the point of view of youthful ideals and joy of living, youth is experiencing evil days. Can days ever be more evil than these?
Yet: Remember now thy creator. The admonition is as timely now as ever, or, if that were possible, even more so. Remember thy creator.
Thy creator is God, the living God, beside whom there is and can be no other. He is the eternal one, immutable, all-wise, almighty, always and at the same time present everywhere, the standard of all good and the God of infinite perfections.
In him we live and move and have our being. For even as he once by the word of his power called the things that were not as though they were, so he also formed each one of us. He gave us our being, brought us into existence, made us what we are in his own time and according to his eternal purpose. He alone determined the time and place of our birth, our parents, our station in life, and even all that befalls us in each moment of our earthly existence. He does it all in the unfolding of the counsel of his infinite wisdom.
He created us in His image to be his friend-servants in the midst of the world. How true it is, that by our natural birth we came into this world altogether polluted and corrupt, dead in sin, unfit and unworthy to serve him. But he has recreated us with the life of regeneration according the image of Christ Jesus. He has called us out of darkness unto light, that we may confess his name and tell his praises as his prophets, may crucify our old sinful nature and devote ourselves to him in love as his priests, and may fight the battle of faith against sin, assured that the victory is ours, as his kings in this world. Remember thy God, thy creator. “For thus saith the Lord, that created thee, O Jacob (his chosen), and he that formed thee, O Israel (his people), Fear not! For I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name! Thou art mine! When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isaiah 43:1, 2). How could it be otherwise? God prepares the rushing torrents of deep rivers of water and the flaming fires that billow and roar. He leads his people into the angry waves and into the raging flames. Yet they are as safe as Daniel was in the lion’s den. “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day, nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee.” For God never forsakes his people. He tries us to purify us as in the refiner’s fire. The master-builder is shaping us, chip by chip, into stones for his glorious temple. We are being fitted for our place in his church either here on earth, or finally surely in glory. We may lose a pal, a friend, a lover or husband in the battlefield; we may suffer bodily injury or even lose our lives, but in all these things we are more than conquerors. We finally lose all…our youth, our friends, our dear ones, our own life…to receive all things with Christ in the mansions above.
This does not mean that we should bring him into remembrance occasionally as fancy or necessity dictates. God is not a servant, who can be slighted and scorned, yet called in when we are driven to an extremity. To remember him is to keep him in continual remembrance every moment of our lives, to have him always before us in every circumstance that each day may produce, to always be conscious of his sovereign nearness, his guiding providence, his tender care. With the Lord at our right hand, we shall never fear.
Looking at it from that aspect, the present days of youth are not so evil after all. In fact, they are not evil at all, for if God be for us, nothing can be against us. No anxious care, no bursting shell, no hissing bullet, no earthly loss, no, not even death itself can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
But evil days are those days when we shall say that we have no pleasure in those things. When we have reached the end of the road and we sit down by the smoldering embers of a wasted life, worn and broken, our dreams blasted, our vain hopes shattered. We had tried to drink to the full the intoxicating pleasures of the flesh, had striven to gain this world, only to lose everything. Like a dog we ran the treadmill, and gained nothing. We are forced to admit, vanity of vanities, all in this life, apart from God, is vanity.
When our life is wasted and spent it will prove impossible, actually too late to remember the creator.
Remember Him now, young man, young woman! And the evil days will never come, nor will the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in him. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age.” Our creator is forming us into a building for eternity.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.
To that Christian youth answers: By thy grace we will!