A FRIEND of mine told me about the time he took chemistry in high school. There was one boy in the class who always wanted to work ahead of the teacher. He was superconfident about how smart he was, and he didn't like to follow directions.
One day the teacher was taking the class through an experiment step by step. He noticed something this boy was about to do, and he asked him, "Do you really want to do that?" The boy said, "Yeah." The teacher asked him if he was paying attention to what he was doing. Had he followed the instructions? The student shrugged. Then, shaking his head, the teacher said, "Well then, everybody get back. Clear the area." The boy looked startled. He began to look nervous. He realized that he might not want to face the consequences of what he was about to do, so he stopped. The teacher then explained that the boy had been about to mix together chemicals that would have caused a small explosion.
A lot of people think that when you're young it's time to experiment-to try smoking or drinking, for instance, or to take drugs or steal things. It may be hard to resist the urging of friends and your own thoughts about these things. But it's a good idea to think hard about what's going on. You might ask yourself that same question: "Do I really want to do this?" In other words, what could the consequences be? What's the influence behind it all? Is it something good?
Good is one of the names for God. It's not always easy to get a grasp on who or what God is, but it always helps me to remember that God is good.
Does the thought to experiment in those ways come from God-from good? A woman named Mary Baker Eddy spent lots of time studying the Bible and healing people through her prayers. She founded the Christian Science Church. This was after she came to a conclusion: it would be impossible for God, who is good, to want or cause us to try anything bad. It just wouldn't make sense. She wrote in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "Good is not, cannot be, the author of experimental sins" (p. 230).
Why is it sometimes appealing to do things that aren't good for you? What can be done if you've already gotten involved in something and you want to stop? There's a story Christ Jesus told about a young man who asked his father for his share of the inheritance and left home (see Luke 15:11-24). He used up all his money in "riotous living," which is sort of a term for getting drunk and sleeping around. But when the money ran out, he started to go hungry and couldn't earn enough to survive. He was desperate. Then he remembered that back home even the servants had plenty to eat. Genuinely sorry about what he'd done, he returned home to ask his father if he could become a servant. But his father forgave him and hugged him and gave him the best of everything again. This prodigal son had wanted to live "the good life." But he learned that experimenting with riotous living wasn't the good life. All it led to was a really difficult, unhappy situation.
Returning home really means finding who we truly are. The Bible proves we're children of God. Because this is our true nature, it's totally natural to express the qualities of God, such as goodness, kindness, and wisdom. The Bible also describes man as God's image. An image can't act differently than its source. If you're the image of God, you must act lovingly and intelligently, as He does. I've found this to be what people really want to do. It's not man's nature to be attracted to something destructive-it may seem that this is natural for some people, but it never really is. Everyone will eventually return home to know his or her spiritual nature. Doing this doesn't deprive anyone of having fun. But it does mean having less hard times. It actually brings safety from emotional explosions of hurt or angry feelings, as well as from explosions of violence that can lead to misery. It helps us to help other people.
Feeling that love of God just might be what you really want.