To my niece Bethany on her high school graduation
May 23, 2009
Bethany – congratulations on your graduation. You are not a different person than you were yesterday, but your circumstances are changing in a significant way. You will not be going back to your high school; you will soon be moving from home; a great number of your friendships will change and others will come.
I think you have chosen well to serve in your church for the coming year.
You have been blessed as few have with loving and wise and discerning parents. God has also blessed you with a great big sister and great set of friends. As you move on to the next part of life, do not fail to continue to benefit from them.
I want to briefly share a couple of verses that have meant much to me in my life journey. One is a verse with much encouragement; the other is a passage of challenge.
A verse of encouragement
Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
My girls could write the script of what I am going to share here as they have heard it at their graduations. Here is what I find encouraging:
- V 8-9 God has brought salvation, not dependent on our good works and therefore uncertain, but based on His grace and gift, we can freely receive.
- For me as a Christian, who have accepted that gift, I find verse 10 very encouraging. It should be encouraging to all who call Christ Savoir as I know you do.
- You are not an accident: you have been made by God. You are His work of art. While you and I may be imperfect in many ways, God declares you as suitable for His purpose.
- You were made for a purpose: for good works. God has specifically made you Bethany for a specific life work that it is your opportunity to find and do.
- You are not alone: God goes ahead of you. Finding and doing that work is not always easy. God promises that you are not alone in it. He goes ahead of you and will help you at each turn.
So be encouraged Bethany. God has saved you and made you to be a blessing to this world. Find it and do it.
A verse of challenge
As good as life is much of the time, seasons of life come that are a challenge. There are times when friends will leave or disappoint; when your work may not be particularly fulfilling; when you will be called to do hard things. Despite all the good I have in my life in wife, kids, church, career and blessings of living in this free land, I have had difficult seasons of life.
The scriptures speak to this. In the books of Colossians, Paul writes to the slaves of that city and era. I cannot think of a situation where one would feel more trapped. But even in such circumstances, which is so much more difficult than I might have to experience, one can find the ability to live excellently, to do right, and to find reward.
Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
The secret of contentment and progress in difficult seasons (really all seasons):
- Do the work God has given you whole-heartedly. Even when parents, friends, employer or future spouse do not recognize you or praise you or reward you. Do the work whole-heartedly.
- Do it all to please Him, not people. Three times in this passage we are told: we work for the Lord.
- Realize God sees it all.
- Realize God that will reward you for those labors to please Him even if no one around you does.
So when life is hard, do right anyway to please God. He will reward as parent, friend, employer, or spouse cannot.
In sum Bethany, do not forget the many, many blessings and benefits God has brought you. Chose and live well for many are distracted or stumble for lack of care of these things.