commencement 2

I think it’s about halfway between very odd and very appropriate that we call the end of high school or college commencement – a word that actually means beginning. Yesterday I attended a graduation ceremony for one of the most gifted, beautiful (inside and out!) young ladies I’ve ever known. Her childhood is over. She leaves in just over two months for college where she will begin the next phase of her life. She will take the love of an incredible family, the support of her church, her education, and a myriad of experiences with her, but her focus will be on making new friends, finding a new Christian community, learning new things, and seeking out all God has planned for a future she can’t even imagine right now.

New beginnings are like that. In order to do something new, we have to learn from our past, but move forward into what is next. How tragic it is when we are so obsessed with what is past that we can’t look forward to what is to come. We get trapped in guilt or shame, we cling so tightly to what we’ve outgrown, we wallow in regret or fear…and we miss the glory and thrill of what can be. Our hands and hearts are so full of the mess and pain of our past that we can’t take hold of our future. Maybe each of us needs to celebrate our own commencement more often.

That young woman shed a few tears at her ceremony yesterday…not because high school was finished, but because she recognized how precious that moment was. Her past has prepared her for her future. She’s in between what was and what will be.

So are you. No matter how old you are. No matter what circumstances you face. Sometimes there is a ceremony marking the milestone; sometimes there is nothing more than renewed hope for a new day.

How different would our lives, our attitudes be, if we saw each new day as our own commencement. Some days life is hard and painful, and that is why the commencement of a new day is so precious. Some days life is sweet and tender, and that is also why the commencement of a new day is so precious. What has been…is done, and it will not come again. But God doesn’t call you forward to a dead end; he calls you to new challenges, new adventures, new victories. Don’t rob yourself of what is to be by refusing to let go of what is no longer true or significant.

Jesus’ command was “Follow Me”. He goes before her and you into a future that is unimaginable today. Learn to see every ending as the beginning of something new. He’s prepared your personal “Promised Land” right here on earth and in eternity. Celebrate the endings and the beginnings. Trust the one who knows your future. Follow the one who will lead you home.

Jer 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.”