Stay in the Lines
How to keep your life from looking like a mess of scribble

When children receive their first coloring book, they scribble all over the poor picture. But after awhile, with some practice, they are taught the all-important lesson of coloring: staying within the lines. With practice, they improve greatly, reaching the pinnacle of their coloring career when they start outlining the lines, which further establishes and enhances the boundaries.

Teens, your life is like a picture! As parents, we are here to help you stay within the lines of your life. Our goal is to affect you so much that you begin to outline the lines yourself and stay within the boundaries. This is the pinnacle of our career as parents. This is when we know we have your hearts!

Your father is there to set the pace. We keep our fingers on the pulse of our families. “An adolescent boy without a father figure is like an explorer without a map,” wrote author Donald Miller. Your parents are charged to go toe-to-toe with big business, peer pressure, current trends, styles, fashions and the entire youth-dominated culture!

Your own nature will work against this God-centered mentality. Study Jeremiah 17:9 and Romans 8:7. Do you understand the craftiness of your own human nature?

In The Missing Dimension in Sex, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote: “The basic cause of today’s immorality, of course, is human nature. Human nature is the basic cause of all violence, war, crime—all our troubles in this present evil world! … Human nature is, simply, the subconscious pull of a definite attitude of mind. It is the attitude that became Satan’s. It is the natural attitude implanted from infancy by the invisible Satan. It is the attitude of vanity—of self-concern—of lust and greed. It is the attitude of hostility to others, and resentment of authority over it.”

A young person in God’s Church today is numbered among the very few in the entire world whom God is using and preparing! There are approximately 1,120 young people in the pcg today. Out of a worldwide population of 7.2 billion, around 2.52 billion are under 20 years old. Crunch the numbers, and you will realize that you are very unique. As a young person in God’s Church you are more than “one in a million”; you are closer to “one in 3 million!”

It’s not too uncommon for a pcg youth to be the only one in the entire school, besides maybe a sibling, who is in God’s Church. Now imagine walking into an average-sized baseball stadium with 45,000 seats in the ballpark. Being “one in 3 million” means that you could walk into 44 different stadiums where every single seat was filled by a young person, and you would be the only one that God is currently working with! Staggering, isn’t it? Talk about sticking out in a crowd!

Consider the job that God gave Jeremiah when he was in his teens. “Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:4-5).

Ordained a prophet while still a teenager! Fear seized him. Jeremiah quickly sized himself up and confessed he wasn’t qualified or old enough for the job. “Then said I, Ah, God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth” (verses 6-9).

God is realistic. He would never give a young person such an assignment and expect him to fulfill it on his own. Young people, God is using His hands to shape your life right now, and He’s putting His words in your mouth. You’re in the process of becoming great because God is strengthening you for an awesome calling. When we stay in the lines, the work we produce looks better. Following God’s instructions allows us to fulfill our potential.

This world will tell you that it’s fun to color and live outside the lines. Look at all the space outside the lines. Look what you’re missing! Don’t you want to be free to do what you want?

And they might find a sympathetic ear with you. But I want to wear tight clothes, I want to date kids at school—I want to draw my own lines!

Yet in the end, your life picture will look like a black mess of scribble.

“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right” (Proverbs 20:11). Whether by your parents, your friend’s parents, your minister, your pyc counselor, your teacher or your coach, you are becoming known—developing a reputation—by your works.

Work hard among your peers to set a good example. Be a leader at school, not a follower. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right even if it means standing alone. In reality, you are never alone; God is right there with you.

Think about the future when you live in the present. You are part of this Work of God in a very special way. Work right along with your parents as they establish the boundaries that will prepare you for God.

Avoid the mess, stay within the lines, follow God’s laws, and it will produce a pleasant and colorful outcome!