The Big “Q” – January | February 2015

We asked Covenanters, “What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?”


Run. Get off the couch, put on your sneakers, and go for a run. I spent thirty years as a couch potato and it ruined my health. A diabetes scare got me up and moving. First I walked twenty minutes a day. Then forty minutes, and within six months I started running. This past week I ran twenty miles while training for a marathon. I never would have dreamed that was possible.
Bob Smietana, 49
Spring Hill, Tennessee

My dearest young JD, Howdy from your older JD! Here is your advice: It is going to be okay if you do some things differently than I did, just as it’s okay that I did them the way I did because God is good. We’re in this together, dude! PS: Tell your father not to sell his Microsoft stock.
Jan David DeWitt, 54
Richland, Michigan

I would tell the younger me to feel free to serve in any way the Lord prompted. As a young Christian, I often felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to help others, sometimes in unconventional ways. I often hesitated to act on these promptings out of fear – that my actions would be misunderstood, of being inadequate to the task, that I had not heard the Lord correctly. Who knows what adventure I would be on today had I followed those promptings?
Kristine Gilmore, 45
Pleasant Hill, California

Spend more time in prayer and Scripture. Spend more time enjoying family and friends. Spend less time trying to change what you can’t.
Vicki Marxen, 67
Oshkosh, Wisconsin

I would say, “Free up and trust the Lord to bring about his purpose each day, and don’t worry about making an impression to gain approval.” The first half of my life was spent trying hard to be accepted and working hard to gain approval. In the second half, I gradually allowed the Holy Spirit to work his transformation to bring me closer to what God created me to be. Without that transformation, I would not have the will, at age eighty-four, to care for my cherished wife, Janice, as she goes through the decline of Alzheimer’s disease.
Marvin Eppard, 84
Red Wing, Minnesota

Be sure to develop the discipline of reading Scripture and praying on a daily basis. I thank God for leading me to Bible Study Fellowship where I began to learn this discipline. Also get involved in a small group for Bible study and prayer and become the body of Christ to each other.
Sue Garland, 73
Spring Valley, California

Address your insecurities. When you lead in response to them, people get hurt!
Art Greco, 61
San Rafael, California

My advice would be to discipline myself to set aside daily time for prayer and devotion to Scripture. Thankfully the Lord has given me the peace to set aside any regrets in my life. In retrospect, I can see where God has carried me, and I am so grateful and in awe of what he has done for me. God is good, all the time.
Marilyn Cokley

I’ve learned more than a few things I since I was young, some of them quite cheery. Here, however, is some not-so-cheery wisdom: Don’t overestimate yourself. Pay attention to 1 Corinthians 10:12: “If you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall.” People often get into trouble when they think they are impervious to temptation. Always be a little afraid of yourself. I didn’t learn that bit of wisdom the hard way, but that’s more a matter of grace and dumb luck than superior moral strength or virtue.
Herb Hedstrom, 74
Elgin, Illinois

Allow yourself to make lots of mistakes! That’s the way we learn, even though we think we are failing. The Lord uses everything in our life to draw us closer to him, and in his powerful love he never condemns us. He would rather see us trying, risking, going farther and deeper than sitting on our hands, fearfully wondering if we are choosing rightly.
Meg Watson, 71
North Plains, Oregon

I would say to myself, “I know you I think it does, but it really doesn’t all depend on you.” I probably wouldn’t have listened to me.
Jim Black, 56
Alexandria, Minnesota

Take time to find a mentor. Find someone you can share your joys, celebrations, anger, and frustrations with. Find someone you can ask any question and know you will get a truthful answer. When you get that answer, don’t comment except to ask questions to clarify the answer. Spend quiet time pondering their advice. They have made it in ministry in part because of their willingness to learn from an older generation. Do the same.
Richard Moore, 60
Sloan, Iowa

Dear Hugh, here are a few words to you as you seek to be a godly man, father, and husband. First, keep your eyes on God. He is faithful. Look to him for guidance, direction, and encouragement. Look especially to the Father when it seems like there is no other place to turn. God knows where you have been, where you are today and, most important, where you will be tomorrow. Second, love your wife of your youth. Remember that she is a gift from God. Do not take her for granted. Recognize that the gifts she has are different than yours, but know that they complement yours. Always take the opportunity to tell her how much you love her, and find ways to show your appreciation. Third, if you are planning on a family, be sure to count the cost. A family is a considerable investment of your time, finances, and resources. Be sure you can commit to all three and then some. Families are such a blessing, but they can be under-appreciated and there is a tendency to put your family time aside when life’s demands pull at you. Love your children every chance you get. They will always be your children, you will always be their dad, even as they turn into adults. Most of what I have written to you has come as a lesson to me. I am thankful for God’s grace and love. Take care.
Elbert (Hugh) Forbes, 49
Bethel, Alaska

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