This is a different kind of post.....please feel free to forward or email it to grads!
Congratulations! God is proud of you. It may be hard to believe you are graduating and entering into a new season of life. This is a new beginning, and as each adventure unfolds, every wrinkle in it will be more exciting than the last! I hope you are making faith a priority in your life.
Isaiah 41:31 says “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.” I know, Graduate, with God by your side, that you will soar on wings like eagles!
And, of course, at this exciting, sometimes scary time of your life, it is wonderful to remember that God has a SPECIAL plan for you. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans for hope and a future. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” God has a special plan and purpose for your life. In fact, Graduate, God has had this plan for you from the beginning of creation! Paul says in Ephesians 1:4-6, “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. He chose YOU, Graduate. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will- to the praise of His glorious grace which He has freely given us in the One He loves (Jesus).” Peter says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.” (1Peter 2:9)
God loves you! YOU ARE A CHILD OF THE MOST HIGH GOD! Isaiah 43:1 says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are MINE!” Never forget, you are God’s child- His Beloved. Isn’t that cool?!
Graduate, I want you to hold on to God’s love as you go away to school or begin life as an "adult." Life will be very different. You will be “free”- free to make your own choices and your own decisions. You will decide how you live your daily life. God says in Jeremiah 6:16, “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus says in Matt. 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and LEARN FROM ME, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” So, Graduate, when you are burdened and you do have to make choices and decisions- go to Jesus!
There will be many “crossroads” you will come to Graduate. You will face many trials and temptations. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. But, you will learn from your trials and temptations, and they will contribute to your character building! Whether you succeed or fail during your trial, God always brings valuable life lessons from it.
James says (James 1:2-4), “Consider it pure joy, my brothers when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” So, to mature and be complete, you MUST face trials. And then, (verse 12), “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life God has promised to those who love Him.”
You will be tempted, Graduate, by alcohol, drugs, and sex. You will have to choose every time which direction you will go. Deuteronomy says that you will have to make choices. God says, “Now, what I am commanding you today is not too difficult. It is not up in Heaven, so that you have to ask someone to ascend to it to proclaim it to you. Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask someone to cross the sea to bring it back to proclaim it to you. No, the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, today I set before you life and prosperity, or death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. (Jesus later adds and with your MIND), to keep his commands, and to walk in His ways. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.”
Just remember that you are not alone. Even at times when you feel alone, or you feel like you are the only one who believes this, remember that you are NEVER alone! God is with you, and He gives the Holy Spirit to help you. Ephesians tells us, “Having believed (in Jesus as Christ), you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of His glory!” Graduate, you were marked by that seal! You have the Holy Spirit living inside of you! And, it is not some wimpy spirit! Oh, no! 2Timothy says, “You were not given a spirit of timidity or fawning fear, but a Spirit of POWER, OF LOVE, SOUND MIND, AND SELF-CONTROL!" Isn’t that cool? You don’t have to rely on your own will or your own strength, (or strength from professors or friends) but you have the strength of the MOST HIGH GOD LIVING INSIDE OF YOU. Philippians 4 says, “I can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens me!”
You can’t always make wise choices in your own strength, but you can through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit! Isn’t that AMAZING?
I’ll never forget my 1st night at college. My roommate was my very best friend. We had been friends since 4th grade, and I thought I really knew her. We went to a party our first night at school. I left the party and went back to the dorm before her. I had drank way too much, and passed out on my bed. Well, when I woke up the next morning, she wasn’t there. I was so scared. I didn’t know what happened to her. I didn’t know what I should do. Should I call the police? Should I call her mom? I didn’t know what had happened to her. I was so naive- it never even crossed my mind she would stay out all night. I didn’t even know we were ALLOWED to do that! Well, she was OK. She had decided to stay the night at the place where the party was. She had met a guy there. I never asked if they had sex. I was just so shocked that she felt comfortable to be out alone.
Well, I became “educated” very quickly to “normal” college life and made so many poor choices. I am so thankful that my husband was there, too. We weren’t married yet, but were engaged. I know if I had been “single” at college I would have made so many choices that I would have regretted. You see, at the time, partying is so fun. “Everybody” parties, and goes wild. It seems normal. It seems so exciting, so glamorous. Temptation is always exciting and “fun.” If it weren’t why would we sin? If the apple in the Garden had been wormy and rotten, Eve would never have taken a bite. But, it was luscious and seductive and enticing and inviting.
College is exciting, and it feels like you’re so “grown up” and in control of your life. I felt so “in control.” But, there were many times I was so out of control. I made so many stupid choices. I put myself in danger so many times. It is only by the grace of God that I wasn’t raped or hurt. I thank God that He was watching over me. God is good. Even though I abandoned Him during those years, He never abandoned me. He sent many angels to watch over me. God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us through these times. Paul says in 1Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Isn’t that awesome? God gives us an escape route to help us get out. God will be helping you through!
But, you have to take God with you. When I went to school, I took a vacation from my faith (although it was very weak to begin with). My professors, my friends, the “world” had such an impact on me. They, not my faith, controlled me and my behaviors. But, the Bible says, “Above all else, (above EVERYTHING- classes, relationships, professors’ teachings, TV shows, politics, news media- above ALL else) guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23. Fill your heart daily with God’s word and prayer so that you may have a wellspring of life within you!
I have always been on a quest for knowledge. I was always the “geek” who lived for school. I was always on the dean’s list and enjoyed the challenge of getting all A’s. I have loved acquiring knowledge and research. I get a thrill walking through the library. Essay tests were my favorite, so that I could show off how much I knew! So, when I went to college, I soaked in everything (except God’s Word). I also was performance driven, and success orientated. I wanted to please all of my teachers. I wanted their approval and acceptance. Whatever they said, I took at face value. I never questioned. I learned that to do well, I needed to conform. I just absorbed and conformed. But Paul says in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to patterns of this world. Instead by transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Unfortunately, my mind was transformed to reflect the ideals and attitudes of my collegiate experience. By the time I graduated, I had acquired much knowledge and “understanding.” Of course, I had gotten it from professors, media, and my friends. When I left school, I had a set of ideas that I thought were so intelligent and “in touch.” But, by studying God’s Word and growing in my relationship with Him, I see how WRONG I was!
Graduate, you will need to fill your heart and mind with God’s Word so that you can discern what is right and true. You will meet many people at school with different religious beliefs than yours. Many of them will be your favorite teachers. This may confuse you, or make you question your own beliefs and the Truth of God’s Word. Sometimes you may feel foolish for trusting in Jesus. (Notice I said JESUS, not God. For many will believe in “God”, but it will be their own idea of “god”- a god who fits in to THEIR wishes or thoughts of how a “god” should act or believe.)
YOU MUST STAY ALERT! The Bible has so much to say about the world’s “wisdom.”
Graduate, this “wisdom” will SEEM so right and so true. It will make you question your beliefs; it will make you question the Bible and its authenticity and validity. The Bible says in 1Corinthians : “ For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (unbelievers), but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” And, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” And, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” And, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." There are many “wise men” at school who will question your faith, who will try to make you feel inferior, less intelligent, and foolish for your beliefs.
But, remember, Graduate, God has given you the Truth and the Truth has set you free! Again, be alert! Don’t take anything at “face value.” Measure the “facts” against God’s Word. And, remember, God has already CHOOSEN you! It is not an accident you are where you are. God will empower you, enable you, and work through you, if you allow Him to, Graduate.
I kneel before God and pray for you Graduate from Ephesians,
“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints (other believers), to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know that this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”