Graduating Seniors: We are all here today to honor you and help celebrate a significant milestone in your life. And while you know this life is not all about you, today at least is. You will and should look back on this date – May 30, 2015 – with fondness and a true sense of achievement.
Family and Friends: Today you are in the presence of true scholars, athletes, musicians, community servants, missionaries, and – from the first-hand experiences I’ve had with most of them – some of the all-around finest kids on the planet that anyone would be proud to call son or daughter; grandson or granddaughter. When you hear our Master of Ceremonies read the brief bio for each of today’s graduates, you too will be blown away like I am by what these young men and women have already accomplished at the ripe old age of 17 or 18. And seniors, God’s not finished with you yet. In fact, He’s just getting started.
You all are graduating as homeschoolers because about 12 to 15 years ago, give or take a few years, your parents held one or more long discussions about your future. In an honest effort to do the right thing – not the easy thing and certainly not always the popular thing – they effectively asked and answered two important questions. Question number one, what kind of child do we want to turn loose in this world as an adult? And question number two, what can we do to train them up in that direction?
The first question was easy. The Bible tells us that one reason God gave us the institution of marriage is because He desires Godly offspring. You see, a perfect God wants a relationship with imperfect mankind because He loves people. And the bigger His family is, the better His family is. So your parents made sure you were exposed to the Gospel Truth early and often. I stand here today with complete confidence that all eleven of you have already made the most important decision you will ever make in your life. It’s literally in the Books: You have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back. You are that Godly offspring.
That second question was however a bit tougher. What could we do to best train and equip you so that you would be able to discover and pursue God’s specific call on your life? In the end, we decided it wasn’t the government’s job to train and equip you. It wasn’t even the church’s job. No, we decided it is primarily the family’s job to raise the family. And for us that included taking on the tremendous responsibility to educate you at home.
Remember young men and women that, even with all the pain and consternation; all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, remember to thank your Mom (and Dad) for giving you this precious gift that has been homeschooling.
So seniors, I have a three-fold charge for you this morning and it is this: 1) Think Eternally; 2) Prepare for tomorrow; and 3) Enjoy the moment.
First, think Eternally. Sometimes the obvious things in this life need to be clearly stated. You all know that one day the lights are going to go out for the very last time for all of us, and then what? Christ will return, justice will be served and there will be no more second chances for anyone. Seniors, do you fully understand that you will live your life closer to this Moment in history than anyone who has ever gone before you? And, if God allows, your children will live even closer to this Moment than you. So, what kind of people ought you to be?
You also know that you were saved by Grace and that not of yourselves. It was a gift of God, not of works, so that none of you can boast. But do you remember what comes next? You were created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He prepared in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:8-10). Acts 17 reminds us that “God gives life and breath to all people and that He determined their appointed time and the exact boundaries of their land.” You are not here randomly. You are here on purpose. And you are definitely not replaceable.
Seniors, you are here for such a time as this. But whether you live to be 25 or 105, your life will absolutely zip by. Since the Bible also reminds us “to number our days aright so we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12), you need to begin with the end in mind. As you stand on the threshold of the rest of your life, ask yourself, what kind of man or woman do I truly want to be? What will this whole thing called life look like for me when I’m done? Who is or will be better off Eternally because they know me?
Take this time to develop an Eternal vision for the days ahead and never underestimate your potential and the remarkable influence of one Godly person moving forward in life under Providential guidance. Think Eternally.
Second, prepare for tomorrow. Don’t let life just happen to you. It will, if you let it. When I was 18, I took my first flying lesson. I was very nervous but assured myself that for this first lesson I would only have to sit there and watch the Instructor show me how it’s done. Much to my surprise, he put me right in the pilot’s seat, talked me through the start sequence, then told me to taxi to the runway. When we got to the end of the runway, I thought surely now he’ll take the controls and takeoff. He didn’t. So I asked him, what do I do – do I just push up the throttle? I’ll never forget his reply. He looked at me and said, “Eric, you’re the pilot now. Make things happen.”
Seniors, you are now adults and now more than ever you will need to make things happen in this world. Be intentional. Be proactive. Get up and get after it every day. Let the fabric of your life be woven with a thousand small decisions well made.
When do you think the prepared man or woman begins their day? It’s the day before. If you hang around me long enough, you’ll know I like to say that champions are made when no one is looking. For every second of glory, there are hours of blood, sweat and tears spent in preparation that no one ever sees.
The Bible says in Proverbs 21:31 “The horse is made ready for battle but victory belongs to The Lord.” We all need to understand and respect the two parts of this important verse. “The horse is made ready for battle” – that’s your part. Make up your mind that, whatever you do, you will outwork everyone else around you. Like a Midshipman at the US Naval Academy told us last year, “Be awesome and people will notice.”
Load as many arrows in your quiver as you can today so that you will be ready to flight tomorrow’s battles. But then remember that “victory belongs to The Lord” – that’s His part. After you’ve done all that you can do, leave the results up to The Lord and allow Him to define your greatness. Give God permission to do whatever He wants with your life – good, bad or ugly – but, by all means, prepare for tomorrow.
Finally, enjoy the moment! The sign on the fridge at our office reads, “We do not remember days…we remember moments.” So true! As you think Eternally and as you prepare for tomorrow, don’t make the mistake of waiting for a magic day that never comes. One when you will be old enough, smart enough, rich enough, prepared enough, or whatever it is you think you will need before you can truly enjoy this life. That day will never come this side of Eternity. The day that will come however is today. Start each day by thanking God for the opportunity to live life and then go live your life that day to the absolute fullest.
Last weekend’s Memorial Day celebration is always a good reminder for me of how truly blessed I am for the opportunity to live my life. I lost an uncle in World War 2 during the Battle of the Bulge, December 3, 1944. Earlier that year, English poet John Maxwell Edmonds penned a famous epitaph that is one of my favorite reminders of the sacrifices others made so that I might enjoy my own moment. It states, “When you go home, tell them of us and say; for your tomorrow, we gave our today.”
Seniors, not only have your moms and dads sacrificed for you. Not only has The Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for you. Countless others have also sacrificed for you so that you might have a better life. One that you should actually enjoy.
I know it won’t always be easy and that bad things will still happen to good people and good things will still happen to bad people but don’t train wreck your life with anxiety, pessimism, hopelessness and despair. Instead, choose to Live fully in the moment. Choose to have Faith. Choose to have Hope. And choose to Love unconditionally in the day that is today. Enjoy the moment!
So there you have it; my charge to you. Think Eternally; Prepare for Tomorrow; and Enjoy the Moment.
A final question we all need to ponder is this: Can eleven people from a variety of backgrounds in little ole South Carolina, all of whom have committed their life to Christ, can they now go out and actually change the world – or, more importantly – the people in it? Because when people change, the world changes and a life that has been changed by Christ is demonstrated by a changed life.
I don’t know. But maybe ask those whose lives were changed by the influence of Peter, James, John, Thaddeus, Simon, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas or the other James.
You see, I love meeting new people and hearing their life stories. So I look forward to when I get to Heaven where, as I’m meeting new people, I can almost guarantee they will tell me about how their life was changed for Eternity by the influence of Madeline, Caroline, Bethany, Kristin, Benjamin, Conrad, Noah, James Clay, Franklin, Riley and Daniel.
# # #
A CHARGE TO OUR SON
May 30, 2015
We’ve taught you to love, to lead, to provide and to protect. Do not forget our teaching.
Let your heart keep the Lord’s commands; for length of days and years of life they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.
And finally, please reconsider your plan to put me and Mom in an old folks’ home one day. 🙂
We love you and are so proud of you, now and always.
Dad & Mom
[…] Commencement Speech […]