As my thoughts have been on the class of 2012 the last couple of days, I have been thinking about what sentiments to give them in their last few weeks before moving on into the great unknown. I’d like to add a few more thoughts that can hopefully be helpful and challenging.
Paul finishes up his letter to Timothy in the book of 2 Timothy by saying:
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)
What would it take to be able to say those words on graduation day? What would you have to do in these last few weeks before Pomp and Circumstance is echoing through your ears as you walk across that stage?
1) Remember this is a fight to endure! The last few weeks of school will no doubt be filled with many celebrations, parties and memorable moments but don’t let your guard down! Satan will not hesitate to take a shot if he can even in the final round.
8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9
Even though you are near the end and have endured much, there are still ways for you to lose in the end. Don’t allow compromise, pride or peer pressure to seep in and steal the joy of finishing well. You may have had a difficult year or years and the finish line is in sight…don’t lose sight now! Fight!
2) Remember this is a race to finish! It’s not about being the fastest but the finisher. Far too many Christians get focused on the wrong things. Image and sin control, behavioral modification and sin management become normal for many teens going through middle and high school. What tends to happen is that many students become overwhelmed with the fact that perfection is unattainable and therefore dropout of the race altogether. They feel that if they can’t “win”, then why “run”? Paul is clear here that the emphasis is on finishing not winning!
On graduation day there will only be one Valedictorian and yet everyone will get a diploma…those who meet the requirements that is. In these last few weeks of school don’t focus on being perfect, focus on finishing well. Focus on making sure you have made things right with people. Make sure that you express forgiveness and demonstrate peace. When you fail a test, study more and prepare better…surely you will graduate even if you fail a test! It’s not the test that fails you…it’s the teacher. In this spiritual case, Christ has already promoted you and all you have to do is cross the finish line. Run to the end. If you fall down, get back up and start running again. It doesn’t matter if you come in last place…just finish and make every effort to finish well.
Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.Proverbs 24:16
3) Remember this is a faith to keep. In the end, when all is said and done, what will matter most to you is how you depart the school. Paul was nearing the end of his life when he was penning the words “I have kept the faith” to young Timothy. He was able to say with great joy that he had kept the faith and had no regrets. Keeping the faith is really about what you leave behind. What kind of legacy will you leave? As Paul had invested in Timothy, so you too should be looking to impart your words of life, wisdom and knowledge to those around you. There are certainly younger eyes watching you from somewhere in your life. Impart to them your love, faith and hope. Make an impression upon them as you make your exit. Allow their hearts to be warmed by seeing you finish well. This will give them reason to continue the faith knowing that you kept your faith all the way to the end!
Graduation Day or Commencement is really a spring board into your future but don’t jump quite yet. Make the most of these last few weeks and share your life, stories, and memories with those you love. Live up and live out your faith. Take your life more seriously than ever but don’t take yourself so seriously that you can’t laugh and have fun! You get one shot at finishing this race well, so run well and fight hard all the way to the end. And as you walk across that stage on graduation day you will not only be proud but many others will be too because they will know you finished well and didn’t compromise your faith!