June 5, 2011
Good afternoon. And what a great afternoon it is for you graduates, families, and friends, as we gather in God's house to acknowledge the achievements of the Class of 2011 and also acknowledge the Lord's magnificent grace and blessings to you! I have the task of sharing a few last thoughts with you as a class, because when you leave this sanctuary today, you will no longer be high school students, but high school graduates and venerable alumni of Immanuel! Probably much of what I am going to say today are truths and values you’ve already heard. And if that is so, I hope and pray that you will join me in praising God for the blessings of faith that we share as Christians.
I appreciate the Scripture verse you have chosen for your class verse: “So may you walk in the way of goodness, and keep to the paths of righteousness." (Proverbs 2:20) I have never noticed that verse used to mark an occasion like this, but it fits perfectly. The writer prays that the listeners will live lives to God's glory and carefully follow God's ways. God's Word provides so many good examples for us, as we make decisions in life.
Your futures look thrilling and interesting to me! You have so many talents, gifts, as well as passion for your futures. The famous artist, Pablo Picasso, once remarked about how his mother inspired him to do great things. “His mother said to him, ‘If you want to be a soldier, you’ll become a general. If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the pope.’ Instead, I became an artist and wound up as Picasso.” Most of us, as young people, would love to know what our futures hold. But, isn’t it good that God does not paint us a picture of what the next chapters in our lives will be? If He did, we might be overwhelmed, disappointed, or downright scared! The psalmist reminds himself, "My times are in Your hands." (Psalm 31:15)
The prophet Jeremiah also encourages God's people with these words: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11) You can be assured that your futures are bright, because the Lord who created you, redeemed you in Christ, and made you His own through the power of the Holy Spirit wants to be with you now -- here on earth -- and in heaven forever! The Apostle Paul emphasizes this truth when he wrote, "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:3)
One of my favorite prayers is worded so concisely and economically. It reads like this:
Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love is supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lordl Amen.
So, follow Jesus throughout your life. Look at His lifestory; place your feet in His footprints. Life is rewarding and blessed when people follow their Savior in life, death, and in resurrection.
Your verse not only instructs us to follow the path of Christ, but as mentioned before, the writer also prays that the listeners will live lives to God’s glory. This brings us to the idea of leadership, or leading by example.
The idea of leading isn’t appealing to everyone, but as Christians, we are called to lead by example. We know the words of Christ: “You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world . . . Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-15) Leading others to see the greatness of God could be thought of as part of a Christian’s “job description.”
All of you have had the distinct blessing of being born into Christian homes, with parents who wanted you to have a well-rounded education: not only for the mind and body, but also for the soul. You probably know a lot more about Scripture and religion in general than most people your age. God calls us, then, to represent Him to others. This doesn’t mean every conversation we have with a person needs to include a Bible verse, but the perspectives, optimistic attitudes, and encouragement we share can help people on their own journeys. The Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians: “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, not written with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. And we have such trust through Christ toward God.” (2 Corinthians 3:2-4) This idea of leadership can seem daunting to us, but please receive this teaching not as a heavy demand nor obligation, but as an opportunity to serve the Lord.
Albert Einstein said, “You can walk through life in one of two ways: as if nothing is a miracle, or as if everything is.” As Christians, we follow Christ and also lead others to know Him. Isn’t life great when you can view life events through God’s eyes, and allow God to be God when things don’t go as planned? Or to see the beauty of God’s garden – the creation we see around us. Take notice of His providential care in the fresh air and rain, His awesome power in storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes; the beauty that lies in each divinely-created human; the abundance of daily bread; and, most of all, the indescribable love of God in Christ Jesus. Being aware of all of the miracles around us every day, we can join with King David in his praise to God: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." (Psalm 23:6)
We wish you happiness and contentment. We pray that your lives will be filled with faith and service as you follow Jesus and lead others to know Him.
Go in peace. Serve the LORD with gladness. Amen.