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Lessons Learned

Don’t let a moment’s decision or a gradual cooling of your love for God send you under the waves. By Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee

What does an old geezer have to say to someone your age?

On many issues, I’m clueless. However, there are some things I’ve learned from having a few years under my belt. One of these things relates to challenges, which as long as you keep breathing, you will face. Some challenges are minor: upgrading to a new version of your smartphone, for example. Others are huge: getting married, facing a major medical diagnosis, losing someone you love or having children.

Whatever you may be facing, here are some ideas that might help.

Hold On To God While this may seem basic, there will be many things that will try to lure you away from Him. Sometimes in a moment of temptation, it will seem like God’s ways are suffocating or irrelevant. But they never are. Remember Peter? He was doing a great job walking on the water until he took his eyes off Jesus. That’s when the trouble began (Matthew 14:25-31). Same for you. Take your eyes off Jesus and things go sour. Don’t let a moment’s decision or a gradual cooling of your love for God send you under the waves.

Avoid Shortcuts

Shortcuts are great to take when you’re driving—if it saves time and it’s safe. But, there are those other times when you get hopelessly lost. Sometimes your GPS lies to you. The same is true with life. We have a tendency to find a quicker or easier way. If it doesn’t involve sin, it might be alright, but if you compromise on what you know is right and wrong, it’s actually a detour. The Bible counsels, “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:5-6).

Life Gets Messy

There’s no avoiding it. Imagine telling an infant as they start to walk, “If you don’t fall down, you’ll never get hurt.” What baby can do that? A baby learns to walk from falling and by taking steps. Same for you. No matter how much you plan, at times you are going to totally mess up—Belly flops of life, I like to say. Some are minor, like saying something stupid to your significant other. Others are pretty major, like finding out the person you hoped to spend your life with is not the right one. Sometimes, you didn’t do anything wrong. Think of the innocent person injured by a drunk driver. Being innocent doesn’t protect you from getting hurt. It happens. Here again the Bible speaks to the child of God: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (Romans 8:28). God, in His wonderful way, can make our messes into masterpieces. Remember that He has a long-term plan for you. The mess may be the best way He could get you to where you should be.

“Don’t let a moment’s decision or a gradual cooling of your love for God send you under the waves.”

Admit You Screwed Up

It is torture to apologize to someone when you were sure you were right. Or, if you know the other person isn’t going to be gracious about it. You’re going to screw up with God, with your friends, with your job, with your beloved. You can sit there and stew in your own juices or you can put aside your pigheadedness and ask for forgiveness. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t mean to hurt someone. What matters is that they were hurt by you. Again, the Bible helps here: “… if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God” (Matthew 5:23-24).

Embrace Hope

No matter how dark the night, the sun will rise. Jesus was beaten, betrayed, deserted, tortured and ridiculed while feeling His life trickle out of Him. But He knew that Easter morning was coming. Commit your way to the Lord and you will always have the promise of your own resurrection. “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary” (Hebrews 6:19).



“Joy Revealed and The Kingdom Revealed” by Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee

“99 Thoughts for College-Age People” by Chuck Bomar


“The Boundless Show” a podcast hosted by Lisa Anderson of Focus on the Family

“The Next Right Thing” by Emily P. Freeman 


“How to Live Your Life as a Christian Teen” by Kelsey Aggrey

“A Message to Christian Teens” by Kevin Makins


An officer since 1975, Lt. Colonel Satterlee entered the College for Officer Training in Lakeland, FL. He is the author of 11 books, half being about Salvation Army history. After serving overseas in Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Jamaica, he was appointed as Editor-in-Chief at USA National Headquarters in 2011. In June 2019, he will retire with his wife and four granddaughters to Lawrenceville, GA.

After 42 years of serving God as a Salvation Army officer (pastor), Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee enters retirement on July 1st. Lt. Colonel Allen’s ministry has impacted thousands of lives, most recently through the written word as he held the position of Editor-in-Chief for the past eight years.

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