A Message for Graduates
- Written by Jody Vickery Jody Vickery
- Published: 06 May 2017 06 May 2017
If you’re a graduating senior, your parents are probably going to seem a little – clingy — for the next few weeks. Over the last 18 years, they have pretty much organized their lives around you. Your schedule was their schedule. And now you are leaving. Even if you aren’t moving away, the relationship is going to change.
That’s going to leave a huge vacancy in their lives. So if they are weirder than usual, they aren’t trying to control you. They’re just trying to figure out how to say goodbye. The adults in your life are all wondering – what did we leave out? What did we forget to say? Is there anything else we can do to send you off more prepared than we were?
Maybe this: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. That one very famous verse says just about everything you need to know, everything you need to remember.
For God – There is one. You might hear otherwise depending on the school you attend or the career you pursue. Some folks will tell you straight up that they don’t believe in God. And they’ll be convincing. They’ll have advanced degrees and apparently irrefutable arguments and IQ’s way higher than yours or mine or lots of other believers you know.
If you press them, though, to tell you about the God they don’t believe in, chances are you won’t believe in that God either. In some cases, those who don’t believe in the God revealed in scripture and in nature have done their homework and have reached honest conclusions. Most, though, are operating out of a much less rigorous world view, one that demanded the conclusion before it considered the evidence. Don’t be intellectually intimidated into giving up on belief. Lots of people who live and make a living in the sciences believe in God. Faith and science are not mortal enemies. Quite the opposite.
For God, so loved – The God revealed in scripture is a God of unconditional love. Even if you go to a Christian school, there is no guarantee that what you hear about God will be true. Some folks see God as perpetually angry or dangerously moody or eternally difficult to please. You’ve got a Bible. Be sure it finds its way into your suitcase and that it does more than gather dust on a dorm room shelf. Use it to check out everything anybody tells you about God. One thing you can be certain of, though, is that God loves you. But not just you.
For God so loved the world – God focused his unconditional love on the people of planet earth. God is for us, not against us. And wherever you go to school – whether it’s in a different state or right there in your home town – God is for your fellow students, the faculty, the staff and the community surrounding your new home. Wherever you are going, God is there already. Look for what he is doing and get involved in it. Look for who he is loving, and love them with him.
Graduating from high school is a big deal. And let’s just be honest here – one of the best parts is the gifts you’ll receive. Of course, you’ll get some gifts that you don’t really know what to do with. Commemorative pillows. A money clip. A desktop figurine with an inspiring quote etched into the base. A copy of Dr. Seuss’s, Oh, The Places You Will Go. And then, there’s the cash. The best gift, though, has already been given.
For God so loved the world that he gave — If you are a parent sending a child off into the world, I hope it comforts you to know that God knows what it’s like to send a child off into the world. And no matter who you are, it’s good to know that God’s love is not just words, but action. God didn’t just wish us well. He sent his son to show us how a well-lived life looks and to save us from the eternal consequences of not living well. And while the gift God gave us was unique, incomparable and one of a kind, your fellow recipients are more varied and diverse than you can imagine. That’s what the next part of this famous verse teaches.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, so that whoever — Once you get settled in at school or into your career, you are likely to meet some pretty interesting whoevers. Even if you attended a public school, you still may have lived a pretty sheltered life. University campuses are far more eclectic and diverse than what most of us are accustomed to. And that’s a good thing. You’ll meet people from different parts of the world – people who see things from a different perspective.
You’ll meet other Christians, too. They’ll be like you in many ways but different in others. Remember, the Kingdom of God is not defined by what you’ve grown up with or what you are used to. It is a vast and variegated family. Other churches are not like yours, even if they are of the same tribe. That seven letter word – whoever – is huge.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Your take on Jesus is the difference between a life that perishes and one that flourishes. That’s the most important message anybody can give you. You have to decide what you are going to do in response to what God has done for you. If you’ve already responded in faith, keep on living in the light. If you haven’t made that decision yet, transition points like this one are the perfect time to take a serious look at the things that matter most. And what you do with Jesus matters.
The adults in your life have loved you for a long time. God has loved you longer. His love will endure every transition, outshine every success, overcome any failure and outlast the longest life. Go with God.