Wednesday, June 19, 2013

For the Graduate

I wrote this for a friend but it has timeless truths I want to remember...

You have reached an important milestone in your life.  It is a wonderful time and frankly, I am jealous for all you have ahead of you:  college, starting your life, and the strength, vigor and freedom of young adult hood.  It is the best time of your life.

It is a significant time. Decisions you make now will have an impact on your entire life and alter its direction for good or for bad.  It is time a when you are making your own decisions, based on your own values and opinions. Many will be without input from mom and dad for the first time in your life. It is a season when you are trying new things, finding your own way, testing your wings.  That is a good and normal thing.

However, there a danger that pride, emotions, ambition, or fear can cause you to make a decision in the moment that can derail your adulthood.  Although this is a time when you can make your own choices independently, making decisions impulsively can lead to sorrow.

We all have faults.  Worse, we have blind spots.  Like cars have blind spots, so do we.  When we drive, we don’t just look straight ahead when we make a turn or switch lanes; that could be fatal!  No, we look left and right, over our shoulder, check our mirrors first, to see all around us before we switch lanes.  Life is like that too.

When making decisions, we need to stop and look around.  Especially at this season of life, that can feel unnatural, repressive even.  We want to try new things and enjoy life, relax.  But just like not looking in the mirrors before switching lanes can cause an accident in our cars, not reflecting and seeking wise council on decisions can cause a major derailment in our life.

So how do we do this?  How do we “look into the mirror” before making decisions?  There are several ways:

1.      Consider the consequences.  Play it out in your mind what will happen if you make a choice, into the next day, the next week, the next year.  I find even now my first thought, my initial response to a situation, is wrong.  And the more I want to impulsively jump ahead and do something, the more wrong it is!  Sometimes, just sleeping on it, letting time pass, waiting a bit, can lead to a much wiser decision.

2.      Consider what people who you love and care for you would think. If you would be ashamed if your parents, or others people who you are close to, knew what you are doing, it is a red flag.  Life is best when lived in the light.  If there is something you are doing in secret, in the dark, it is something that will cause you heartache.  Don’t go down that path!  If you find yourself there because you wandered there carelessly, get help quick! Don’t linger and don’t let fear or shame trap you further!  Confess to someone who cares for you.  That is always the first step.  Remember, there is always a way out, if you have courage, be a man, and take it.

3.      Consider God’s ways.  When Paul said “pray about everything,” he wasn’t kidding.  Pray about your decisions: invite God into the choice.  Wait on Him, allow Him time to speak to you.  Read His Word: a daily reading of scripture will be a surprisingly accurate guide in your life.  It will feel like God is reading your thoughts (He is!!) and He will speak to you and guide you through scripture in amazing ways. 

4.      Consider the counsel of godly mentors.  Mom and dad first, but also have other godly people who love you, can speak into your life, and are willing to tell you the truth, even when you will not want to hear it.  This is the relationship I have with your mom. We need this.  You will need this!  Have people around you who will see what is happening in your days and can speak to you when you are going down a wrong path.  You will always be rubbing up against people who will influence you in negative ways—it is just how life is.  Even at a Christian college, even at church, there are people who can lead you into situations that can be harmful or just distracting to God’s purpose in your life.  So to help keep you on course, keep godly friends around you and stay in regular contact with them.  They will be a life saver.

5.      Consider: “I could be wrong!” We all have unique points of view and opinions.  But it is a trap to get so stuck in our own ways that we never think we could be wrong.  When I find myself disagreeing with what someone else is thinking or doing, I have begun to ask this important question: Is it me, Lord? Maybe it not them. Maybe they are right—or at least right-er. Maybe they have another perspective that is valid.  Maybe I don't know all the facts. Maybe I have a part in the problem. Maybe the bulk of the problem is not them—maybe, just maybe, it is me.   Pride is the smoke that hides our blind spots.

Finally, as you choose your path, it is most important to remember our life is not just about us and achieving the life that we want.  Our story is about God's story that He wants to write with our lives. Therefore, in all things we should consider if our lives and choices honor God.  Are we about our glory or His?  Our prayer should be as the song:

Creator God you gave me breath so I could praise Your great and matchless name all my days. So let my whole life be a blazing offering, a life that shouts and sings the greatness of our King

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