June 6, 2004
June 6, 1988 — 900 seniors from Osseo Senior High graduate at the Met Center, which is now a parking lot for the Mall of America. I was one of them.
June 6, 2004 — 6 seniors graduate from Immanuel Mankato. It is my privilege to speak to them today.
What’s the difference in the graduations? When I graduated, people crossed stage that I had never seen. I heard names announced that I did not recognize at all. Osseo was a good school and I received a good education. We as students had many of the same goals and ambitions the six of you have here today. We had worked hard, and were then to set out into the real world to achieve our goals and realize our ambitions.
However, there is one distinct difference between my graduating class and the graduating classes here at Immanuel besides the number of students. All the things we had in common ended at graduation. At Immanuel, your common faith, your biggest asset, remains with you far beyond graduation, providing a unique bond that so many graduates this spring will not have. The Lord says in 1 Corinthians 16:13, Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.
Appreciate the faith the Lord has given you. As most of you have grown up with or been immersed in the culture of Immanuel, you might not realize what a wonderful blessing it is to be a faithful member.
I became a member of Immanuel in 1993. One of the things that impressed me the most was the rock-solid faith of its members, particularly a recent graduate, Julie Wheaton. As I came to know more and more people here, I became more and more impressed with their faithfulness and willingness to stand firm in what they believe. I also was, continue to be impressed by, and am grateful that Immanuel teaches the truths of Gods Word according to the Bible. You are fortunate to have been educated in this atmosphere with faithful and supportive parents, teachers, and pastors.
High school had its challenges and difficulties. The next stage of your life will have challenges and difficulties as well. You may not have the same people around to guide and help you, but you will always have the Lord, and you will have your faith.
If college is your path, you will have classes, studying, and tests. If it is a career you are pursuing, you will have stress, deadlines, and accountability. I’d like to challenge you with something—appreciate each day and whatever it brings. Resist always looking forward to the next good thing, whether it is the weekend or completing a test or class. Take in each day as God has given it to you. If you are always looking forward to the next best thing without being content in the journey, life will go by too quickly.
Even though you appreciate your faith and trust in Jesus, life can still be difficult and sometimes overwhelming. In those times, remember what the Lord says in Jeremiah 33. Call to Me, and I will answer you. If you’re Erin, you might say, YOHOO, Jesus! To get His attention, but others of you might prefer a more traditional approach. Whatever method, know that He is there for you and that He asks you to cast your cares upon him.
When times are tough for me, I like to read Philippians 4:13 which states, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Be comforted and uplifted by this. Be aware, however, that this means things that are in accordance with Gods will. It does not mean, Jimmy, that He will give you the ability to divide a yardstick into one piece. But nice try.
The Lord encourages us to pray without ceasing. After high school, you might find yourself doing this more and more! As I mentioned, when we do pray, we should strive to pray according to the will of the Lord. John 5:30 teaches us that we should not seek our own will, but the will of the Father. Humbly submit yourself to Gods plan for your life. In Matthew’s case, we don’t have to worry about him seeking his own will, because as we saw at Banquet, Matthew struggled to proclaim his wills to the underclassmen!
The Lord watches over us and protects us, as he did for many people in the Bible. In the book of Jonah we read, And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. Sometimes when the Lord sends protection we don’t recognize it or we think we need to modify what he has done for us. Take Cassie for example. If the Lord had prepared a plant for her when she was younger, she might have promptly produced a pair of scissors and cut off all its leaves to give it a haircut, as she did once under the care of a baby-sitter. Appreciate the things God does to protect us!
The Lord promises to answer our prayers. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no, and sometimes not yet. We must trust in the Lord and have childlike faith. Sometimes, though, when you are a child, you actually do have the answer, or think you do. A pastor was once teaching about the last day and how no one knows when it will be when Brandan decidedly announced the he did indeed know full well when the last day would be—when they stop making calendars! Sometimes God will reveal His answer to you clearly. Sometimes not so clearly. Appreciate Gods love for you and know that he always has your best interest at heart.
As you move on in life, you may retain the same friends, you may make new ones. You will always have Jesus for a friend who, according to Psalm 73 will guide you with His counsel. So Meghan, when Cassie isn’t around first hour to talk about boys, appreciate your relationship with Jesus and seek His counsel.
Considering your future, please remember Jeremiah 29:11-12 which reassures us, I know the thoughts I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me and I will listen to you.
Thank you for giving me this honor and this opportunity. Id like to end with selected lyrics from a song called I Hope You Dance which I heard performed by Lee Ann Womach. Those of you who know me know that I’m not the biggest fan of country music. My ability to dance or lack thereof is even less worthy of discussion. However, I think these lyrics transcend genre and are talking about much more than dancing:
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
Get your fill but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Give Heaven above more than a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…
I hope you dance.
My prayer for you is that you appreciate every opportunity the Lord gives you to serve Him!
Congratulations and God bless you!