A message for the grads…..
Graduation time always makes me think about the seasons of life. In fact, one of the meanings of the Hebrew word for time is, in fact, season.
So, we can correctly go to Solomon’s famous words in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 and substitute the word “season” where the translators chose “time.”
a season to be born and a season to die,
a season to plant and a season to uproot,
a season to kill and a season to heal,
a season to tear down and a season to build,
a season to weep and a season to laugh,
a season to mourn and a season to dance,
a season to scatter stones and a season to gather them,
a season to embrace and a season to refrain from embracing,
a season to search and a season to give up,
a season to keep and a season to throw away,
a season to tear and a season to mend,
a season to be silent and a season to speak,
a season to love and a season to hate,
a season for war and a season for peace.
For most graduating seniors, this is a season of joy, of accomplishment, of seeking dreams and embarking on a journey of hope for the future. As Solomon realized, however, near the end of his life, seasons are passing things. The good times give way to bad times. Emotional highs precede emotional lows.
This roller coaster we call life can be fully understood only in the perspective of eternity. The good times God gives us are to be embraced and fully enjoyed. The bad times God allows are also to be embraced and fully understood. Notice I did not say “fully endured,” even though that’s what people of faith do.
The seasons that aren’t so pleasant are designed to teach us things. Maybe God is just trying to stop us from going down a wrong road, a route we think is our ticket to a great future. Before we make that wrong choice, God closes the door on it; and we take it as a disappointment.
Perhaps a bad season is God’s way of getting is to examine our lives, to see if there is anything still in us that’s not pleasing to Him. We see it as getting a raw deal. From God’s perspective it’s just another course in the great university of life. We get to decide if we pass or fail, not Him.
Solomon is a great example for all young people starting out who are dreaming of great careers with big paychecks, of achieving success in everything they do. Many of us start out thinking that if we just make enough money, buy enough things, and find the right spouse, life will be a breeze.
Solomon stands as a stark example of that illusion. He was handed everything, almost literally, on a silver platter. His father David had fought all the wars to unify the tribes of Israel as one powerful nation. His father gave him all the materials he would need to build a magnificent temple. His father handed him the throne just before his death.
God had told David that he would not building the temple because of all the blood he had shed but instructed him to gather those materials for his son to complete the project. Things were ready to go when Solomon became king.
Israel had become a wealthy nation under David, and Solomon’s wisdom elevated the kingdom even higher. He is still considered the richest man who ever lived, his wealth equivalency exceeding our present-day billionaires.
Solomon had hundreds of wives and hundreds more concubines. He had loads of children. He had loyal, happy subjects, for the most part. He lacked nothing of what the world had to offer.
Yet, near the end of his life, he would declare “everything is meaningless.” (Ecc 12:8)
In fact, everything is meaningless for those who don’t have an eternal perspective. God has a plan, and every one of His people have a role in fulfilling that plan. Until one finds that divine calling, life will amount to nothing in the end.
There will be good times that won’t last, along with bad times that don’t last, wonderful holidays and awful hospital stays, births and deaths, and lots of detours along life’s ways.
In the end, all that will matter is where you get to spend eternity.
So, to graduating seniors, I say enjoy your summer. You made it to the next level. My summer after graduation is still one of the best in my life. Get ready, though, for the future; but always make your decisions after seeking God’s will in prayer and worship. If you don’t you will make bad decisions.
When that happens, don’t despair. God never gives up on us. He can turn our bad decisions into blessings, our setbacks into comebacks, as long as we come back to Him first.
For our other seniors who are in the winter of their lives, I say the same. Follow God’s purposes. Share your wisdom with the younger generations, and you’ll help others avoid some of the mistakes you may have made.
If you’re still breathing, God still has a purpose for you. A purpose-driven life on this earth doesn’t end until that breathing stops.
Wisdom cries out through the prophet Micah: “Seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)