The last two weeks in May bring about a recurring annual event across our land which marks a milestone in the lives of our youth. That yearly event is graduation. It may be graduation from high school, technical college, or university studies. In our modern culture of concern over self-esteem for our children, many schools even have graduation ceremonies for primary grades. All this is okay but the interest of this article are those graduations which are major steps in our life plans.
These graduation events are more than the public recording of achieved formal education requirements. Within these events are contained hopes and dreams of the graduate and a sigh of relief from the parenting adults. Each of these graduation ceremonies becomes an inerasable moment in a person’s life. A forever mark in their life timeline that punctuates the end of an era and the beginning of a whole new adventure. The day after graduation, the graduate is required to begin new again. Oh, they may in actuality sleep late from the celebratory activities of the night before, but they do begin again. They may even go back to school or their previous workplace the next day but they begin again. Their next step in life will always be as a graduate now.
As parents, grandparents, or just well wishing relatives and friends once the congratulations are given and received, we immediately turn our attention to their next step. Most often we ask, “What’s next? What are you going to do now? What are your plans for the future?” These are all good questions most usually asked out of concern and well being of the new graduate. Many times whether requested or no, we in our goodly concern rush in with our opinion of what their next step should be. The graduate may already have considered their next step and options, and we are always obliged to give our free advice to what they should consider. This is all well and good, but there is one declaration we should give which is universal to every graduate.
Every graduate should hear from a concerned loved one, “Seek to do God’s will for your life.” Our advice to them, their next step should always be to discover and pursue God’s will for their life to the best of their ability. God has a plan and a purpose for the future of each new graduate. Within this divine plan are held every good and wonderful blessing our creator has stored up for them. Whatever direction or next step they choose to take, if it is contained within God’s will for them, it will be the right one. We should encourage our new graduates to dream big, be all they can be, live with passion. These too are contained within God’s will for them. What we need to insure that they hear from us is that only within God’s will can all the other things be available to them.
To aid them in their search to ascertain God’s will for their continual next step, suggest prayer, scripture, listening, observing, and finally peace which can truly only come from God. A good place to start , suggest Romans 12:2 for their hearing. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”(NIV) The Amplified Bible goes on to explain, “even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” God knows His plan for you. The new graduate will benefit in the choice of their next step if they seek this plan. Their search to acquire this most valuable information begins with the knowledge of God’s word and self-observation.
Although the entire written word of God, the Bible, is for them and us a source of instruction in choosing our next step, I will also suggest the Psalms as a beginning to the search for God’s will in our life. Here particularly, I suggest Psalm 16 to guide the process of renewing their mind to discover God’s will for their life. The entire Psalm is fruitful, but I wish to make note of a few key verses. Verse 2 says, “I said to the Lord,’You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’” This simple truth reveals that all our dreams, hopes, and plans exist only within God and His will for us.
In Verse 5 we see that His plan is ordained for us and are given the assurance of His power and providence to see it to completion. “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.” Within God’s plan and will for us, we have the security to know He is able and will provide to see it through.
Finally Verse 11 tells us that we are able to know His will for our lives and within that plan are found all the goodness that He desires for us, His creation. “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
At this time of year we should celebrate with our new graduates. Their achievements should be marked with congratulations and honors. We should acknowledge their labor and encourage them to take pride in their accomplishments. One further thing we should do to benefit our graduates is prayerfully advise them in their next step. That next step they choose should be to acknowledge their Lord, and to seek His will and plan for their life to come. Congratulations to all the new graduates, especially those I hold dear. Choose your next step wisely.