21 Apr Open Letter to our Graduates and Parents
Our young men and women are graduating from high school hopefully in June. At various times in their lives; they’ve experienced difficulty and trouble just as the rest of us have. The reality is that they will experience difficulty and trouble in days and decades to come. In the midst of it all, however, there is a Presence that is abiding and a Presence that will sustain them whenever their hearts might become troubled. That Presence will enable them to take seriously what Jesus said at the very beginning of John 14 when he said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (v. 1) and at the end in verse 27, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Where will these grads go? Some will go to various and miscellaneous places here in Anderson County – believe it or not, you can go to various and miscellaneous places in Anderson County! Some will go to places in surrounding states. Others will go to places across the nation. Perhaps some will go to places internationally where they will make a difference. Who knows? Some may become missionaries in some of the remotest places on Earth. Oh the places these young believers will go! If they will keep their hearts close to Christ and if they will allow the Spirit of God to comfort them and be their Advocate and speak truth to them, they will be able to make a grand and glorious difference wherever they go and we have every confidence they are going somewhere. Oh, the wonderful places that they have been. Oh, the wonderful place they are right now. Oh, the wonderful places to which they will go all their precious lives. Parents and Graduates, need to be assured of something. They are not alone, even when they are alone, as they go into the future.
I graduated from high school on Saturday, May 23, 1998 – 22 years ago in an East Tennessee town called Dandridge. I had no idea at that time that I would have pastored several youth groups across the U.S. I had no idea that I would be privileged, blessed, and honored by God to share this journey of faith with you and your families. I had no idea then that I would be blessed and privileged to youth pastor a wonderful congregation here at First Baptist Clinton.
Who knows where God may take them. He will guide them and as they go in His guidance, always remember that He goes with them. As I said just a few moments ago, there will be those times when they are alone, when they feel alone. Even though they are alone, rest assured they’re really not. There is a Power and a Presence that is far greater than they can possibly ever imagine that will sustain them and encourage them and grant them peace so their hearts will not be troubled and their fears may be overcome.
Now there are lots of places they will go, aren’t there? In Lewis Carroll’s classic tale, Alice in Wonderland, Alice was having a conversation with the Cheshire Cat. She said to him, “Please sir, could you tell me the way I should go?” The cat responded, “That depends a great deal upon where you want to be.” Alice said, “I’m not too much concerned about where.” The Cat cleverly replied, “Then it doesn’t make too much difference which way you go.”
The truth is it does not make any difference where they go as long as they go with the reality of God’s love deep in their hearts. As long as they go with the reality that Graduation day is not about them, even though it is; that Graduation day is not about our Anderson County Schools, even though it is; and that Graduation day is not about all the accomplishments they have made, all the honors that they have received, even though it is. Graduation day is about the Lord Jesus Christ who has brought salvation into each of their lives and done so as a result of His grace and their response to His grace, which is called faith. If they will keep that reality ever before them, then they can go wherever in this world and be whatever as a result of the abiding Presence of Jesus.