“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left”—2 Chronicles 34:1-2
When I left home to attend college, it was with mixed emotions. It would be my first time away from my family for a long period of time, and I was also still grieving the loss of my dad, who died about five months before I left for school. In those first months away, even as I was being exposed to a new way of life, I was still very much connected to home.
However, it was obvious that the days of growing up as a child and enjoying carefree times were slowly fading. The time when having fun was all that mattered and everything was all right with the world was changing. Growing up in a Christian home, we were taught that God could do anything and that He was there for us all the time. When things weren’t going right, we knew we could call on Him. When we were blessed with things, we knew to thank Him. We were taught that Jesus never fails, and I believed it.
With the freedom of college life at my disposal, I began to realize that this new way of life allowed me to do whatever I wanted to do. Now it was up to me to make my own choices about how I was going to move forward.
Several months into my first year, while alone in my dorm room one afternoon, I decided to no longer ride on the coattails of my parents, and I chose God for myself. I knew I did not want it any other way.
Now, as an adult, I still believe many of the things I was taught as a child and, in many ways, I have proved them for myself. Of course, I have had my share of challenges, and there have been times of discouragement and questioning, but I am thankful for reminders in scripture such as “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him”—James 1:12, NIV.
The story of Josiah (see 2 Chronicles 34-35) who became king at eight years old and instituted lasting changes in Judah as a young adult (age 24) is a source of encouragement to me. It is true that we don’t get to choose the family we are born into, but we do get to choose the direction in which we want our life to go. Josiah was a “game-changer” who chose to break the generational chain. He could have followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who both did evil in the sight of the Lord, but Josiah chose to be true to the God of Israel. As a matter of fact, 2 Kings 23:25 says about Josiah, “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.”
Even though life may deal us some very hard blows at times, it is up to us to choose how we will respond. I am happy with the choice I made that day in my dorm room. Regardless of what is happening around us, we should be determined to turn neither to the right nor the left, but to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). The choice is yours!
Ednor A. P. Davison is the communication director for the Atlantic Union Conference and editor for the Atlantic Union Gleaner.