THE JOY OF GRADUATION
I wanted to take a few minutes to say, “Congratulations, class of 2018.” Your day has finally come. The classes have ended. The final papers are in. The exams are behind you. You are free! What a feeling!
Over the next several weeks, large numbers of proud, relieved, and ambitious young people like you will walk across the stage, shake a couple of hands, and receive the prized piece of paper declaring, “It is finished.”
For many of you — maybe most — this is the greatest accomplishment of your lives thus far. Four years — or five, or eight — of hard work have earned you the cap, the gown, and the degree. Others of you, twelve years of the daily grind, and you earned that diploma. For many, it’s the end of some of the best years of your lives — experiencing freedom and independence, learning from great teachers, joining fraternities or sororities, competing in sports, reading life-changing books, meeting and making lifelong friends. Let me give you some…
Truths to Remember While You Wait For What’s Next
For just as many, though, graduation marks the beginning of months (maybe more) of waiting, searching, and doubting. Degrees don’t guarantee jobs. The vast majority will not even help make the big decisions for you. What city should you live in? What jobs or College should you apply for? How will you know to accept an offer?
And then what if the offer doesn’t come? The graduation ceremony is a massive affirmation that can quickly be undone by dozens of unreturned calls, uninterested employers, and unclear steps forward. Leaving the comfort, community, and identity of school life can be a confusing crash back into reality.
Here’s some things to remember while you wait for the acceptance letter from the College or University, or the call back from the job application/interview, the offer letter, and that first paycheck, however long you have to wait.
God has prepared you for something significant.
Every human being, believer and nonbeliever, was made — knit together in his or her mother’s womb — for the glory of God. God says, “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (Isaiah 43:6–7). God made you for his glory, and God saved you for his glory!
God’s purpose for your life — and it is a real, tangible, actionable purpose — has not changed, and it is not undone by a few months, or longer, of unemployment. Your hours from 8 to 5 are just as gloriously and significant right now as they’ll ever be. Don’t be distracted by what you’re not doing yet. Instead, give yourself to the work for which you were made. What you live for is so much more important than where you work.
God gifts every one of his children for one purpose, and then many other, smaller, temporary purposes, including careers. Employed or unemployed, you were made for something bigger than your next step in school, or job, bigger even than forty years of forty hours a week. God made you for God, not work. Whatever you do while you wait for your next job, do it with all your heart for God’s renown 1 Corinthians 10:31 Here’s a quote from a graduation speech from one of my favorite “theologian.”
"Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate. The world doesn't need any more gray. On the other hand, we can't get enough color. Mediocrity is nobody's goal and perfection shouldn't be either. We'll never be perfect. But remember these three P's: Passion + Persistence = Possibility." -Jon Bon Jovi,
God lets you wait and wonder — so that you learn to pray.
If you find yourself this coming month feeling discouraged and abandoned by God while looking for work, you have a friend in the apostle Paul. He also experienced an intense period of hopelessness and despair. He writes, “We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8–9).
Now, Paul was facing death, not joblessness. So the differences are real, but the principle is the same. God intends for our neediness to bring us to our knees. A good Father would never watch his kids suffer for the sake of suffering. He might wait to rescue them, though, if he knew it would eventually bring them a better and longer lasting peace, strength, and joy. We all desperately need to learn the futility of self-reliance and the reward of relying wholly on God. Go to him with your questions, your restlessness, and your heartache. Another graduation speech quote from one of my other favorite theologians…
"We have, if we're lucky, about 30,000 days to play the game of life. And trust me, that's not morbid. In fact, it's wisdom that will put all the inevitable failures and rejections and disappointments and heartbreaks into perspective." Arianna Huffington
Friendship is indispensable, but even more important after campus life.
It’s no surprise that some of our best friends to this day are people we met in High School and College. When you study, eat, sleep, and play in the same square mile for four years or more, it’s harder to avoid having friends than to make them.
Friendship off campus can be more challenging, though. No cafeteria. No biology lab. No student section. You probably won’t just run into your friends in the real world. Pursuing a job or moving forward with your education can be made more painful, then, because it comes with loneliness. You’ll have to be intentional with your friends, set aside time to be together, coordinate schedules, and then make it happen regularly. It’s not convenient, but it’s critical. In fact, God may have given you great friends in high school and college mainly so that you would have friends when you walk through hard things after college — hard things like waiting and looking for work longer than you expected.
Don’t be surprised, God can speak through your friends — their knowledge of God’s word, their love for you, their experience in the world, and their hope in Jesus for your future — to keep you in the faith, walking in line with the gospel. A couple more graduation speech quotes from some of my favorite theologians…
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life... Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." Steve Jobs, Stanford University
"You're going to have naysayers, and I'll tell you, you will throughout your life have people who will tell you you're not good enough. Maybe they're jealous. Maybe they think you aren't. Maybe they've had a bad day. But ultimately you have to believe in yourself." -Meredith Vieira,
We’re going to be honoring our graduates this Sunday during our morning services. God’s Word tells us, “Rejoice with those who rejoice…” Let’s do that with great passion and celebration! An outstanding day awaits you this Sunday at Deer Flat! I can’t wait to see you! I LOVE MY CHURCH!
BTW – 2 Quick things you want to know about
1. There ‘s a great opportunity to have a coffee and a chat with my wife tomorrow morning in the Lobby of Deer Flat at 9 a.m. She would especially love to meet you if you’re new to the church.
2. We’re in need of some housing for several of our single ladies. If you have a place to rent, or perhaps even a room to rent, please let Jessi know at the church office. 208.459.3845