Posted by Dr. Wade Smith on May 22, 2015
It was graduation morning and I was up at the crack of dawn. My friends and I decided that we would celebrate our special day with a round of golf at Tulsa’s LaFortune Golf Course. It was a beautiful spring day and in the midst of all the fun, remembering the great times we had in high school, and sharing the different paths we would take after the summer, time got away and I found myself in a time crunch to get home and ready for family dinner and the graduation ceremony.
I was greeted at the door by my anxious mother, “Do you know what time it is!? You are supposed to get your cap and gown pictures taken before dinner.” Not wanting to acknowledge that I had forgotten and that these pictures were not at the top of my to do list on graduation day, I reacted and said, “Don’t worry about it. I’m a big boy. I will take care of it.” I’m not sure which of the ill-advised responses was the trigger, but within seconds, my mom was in tears and headed to her bedroom. Stunned, I looked at my dad and asked, “What’s wrong with mom?” Without hesitation, he simply replied, “Today is a big day for ALL of us.”
And, so it was, five hours before my graduation that I finally understood high school graduation was not just about me, but that it was a significant milestone and moment for my entire family. In ways that I did not yet comprehend, my family would forever be changed. In a few months I would pack my bags and move into Walker Tower at the University of Oklahoma. New adventures, relationships, and opportunities awaited me. But life would continue at home with an empty bedroom that my parents and sister would walk by every day. I was clueless, but my mother had already begun to grieve the changes that were beginning to take place.
In America, high school graduation is one the most significant rites of passage that we celebrate, marking the transition of our children from adolescence to adulthood. Commencement is a time of new beginnings for all graduates. It is fittingly an important time of celebration for family and friends. Likewise, there is great value in marking this milestone in our faith communities as we ask God’s blessings on these graduates and their families and where we seek a broader perspective or spiritual context for commencement.
Over these next days commencement ceremonies will take place in our local high schools. Let us pray for these families and their graduates as they celebrate (and grieve) the new beginnings that are before them. May these words from Proverbs 3:5-6 inspire faith for all our graduates and their families: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Of course, commencement is not just for graduates. Commencement is a foundational promise for all Christians, as Jesus invites His followers to regularly experience new beginnings through His grace, love, and forgiveness. Are you in need of a new beginning? Then, by faith, you too can “Trust in the Lord…”