I’ve been thinking about graduates given the month we are in. In my church we celebrated new beginnings and student’s accomplishments and the youth minister said something that was so profound. It made me think about what I would have said had I the opportunity. It’s good to think about these things before speaking.
Sometimes my mouth gets me into trouble. Like the other day I asked a widow of 12+ years how her husband was. Ooops! Does this ever happen to you too? Yeah, it’s just that way isn’t it? We speak before thinking.
So on the back row of church, I was thinking about what I would have said to students looking at so many new beginnings. I came up with three ideas I can encourage you with. If you are facing any kind of new thing or uncomfortable thing or exciting journey, here’s what you need to know.
1. Don’t take any wooden nickels. The world is full of fakers and you are about to meet many of them. My warning to you is to know what you believe in these moments. You will need the real God to help you through this next phase of education. Simply said, your beliefs will be tested, so know what you believe and why. Your faith will be challenged. A strong foundation of faith will travel with you into the journey ahead of you. You can’t rely on your parent’s faith, nor someone else’s beliefs. Faith is just that, a personal journey and a perfecting process. In the many ways God works in us for our perfecting of faith He never fakes us out or changes. His word is true and real and authentic. Fears come disguised in so many lies these days and there are many people who love to tell you about God, but honestly, it’s better to go to God Himself and ask that intimacy of Him directly. He will always talk straight with you and keep you going the right direction. I don’t care where you are today, we all still need direction. Trust the process of learning about God and your faith in this next phase but get to know God on a deeper level.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
2. Drop your ego at the door. You’ve graduated, you’ve gotten some honors, you are at the top of your class. That’s great, but this next phase isn’t about you. Oh you thought it was? Heh…heh…nope! Your awesomeness has been noted but it’s really just evidence of the works of your hands. It shows you are good at something. That’s great, now that you know what you can do, now you will learn your limitations. This is where responsibility kicks in, accountability, and life will meet you in each nook, corner, and cranny to do the right things, every time. No more skating by on your good looks. You’ve got some skills, now you get to use them or fine tune them to make a difference in this world. What you have inside of you is God’s gifts to you, what you do with what God has given you is your gift back to God. Use them wisely and you can do more than you think you can. If you don’t have it figured out, it’s okay, you don’t have to know all the answers. But knowing the Answer is doing the work that matters. Once you see that God is with you and directing you He will take you the rest of the way to discover the gifts He has placed inside of you. Commit those gifts to Him and let Him educate you and promote you for His purposes.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
3. Nothing in this world is free. What people can tell you is that you are awesome, but what only God knows is the steps between where you are right now and awesome. I want you to know that you are going to be okay but you are going to sacrifice something. Your future looks uncertain, scary, uncomfortable, exciting, interesting, intense and different. Every day is like that in the real world. There will be twists and turns in this daily walk that will throw you for a loop. You will have to work hard, sweat often, and love much. But you must know Who has your journey planned for you and you will need your “why”.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This verse is the most used scripture this time of year. Yes, the Lord has plans for us. But prospering doesn’t mean walking on the easy street of life. Life is our schoolroom and many lessons often look like failed tests or mistakes to us. But in the Lord’s eyes they are tests of our obedience in His classroom of prosperity. He created us to need each other, He created us to live in unity with like minded people, He created us to love everyone. He created us to reflect His image to a dark world and shine the Light of Jesus Christ.
When I think about how the Lord prospers our faith, it always involves Him perfecting what He has started. He is our beginning and end, so why wouldn’t He care about our lives and what happens to His creations? He does, in such a personal way! God is with us every step of the journey, and He never leaves us out here to handle life by ourselves. Often I have to back to my “why” to remind me of what to do next.
The Lord knows what He’s put inside of you. And He hasn’t forgotten where He put those gifts or where you right now either. He sees you! When it’s time for you to give the gift back to God, then surrender all that you are with honor and love. God made us from His deep love for us, so it is with everything we are and do, that we should give what and who we are back to God in the same manner, love and honor.
I wish I would have known then what I know now. My mother used to say, “If wishes were fishes the sea would be full.” I’ve learned learned wisdom by being on the front row of God’s classroom, in my own personal journey of life itself. Don’t waste your life! And if you do? God gives second chances and He doesn’t waste anything!
So what was the profound advice given by our youth minister? She said, “Keep in touch!” Advice well received. We should always talk to God before, through and during the process. He is the only one who will keep you straight, upright, and fully equipped for the steps ahead. He started your process, He’s in this to win this. And there is only one thing in this life that is free and for the taking…God’s grace, which is more than enough for everyday you have left.
Philippians 1:6 “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”