Congratulations! It is no small task to have done the work you’ve done to get to where you are today. You are here. You did it.
I want to write to you because you have a special place in my heart. When those of you who are graduating high school this year were in 6th grade, I decided to be a youth leader with my then-boyfriend, Eric. At first, if I’m honest, I volunteered primarily because I wanted to spend more time with him. I wasn’t sure why he had such a great desire to spend time with teenagers. When I asked him why he wanted to be a youth pastor he said, “These kids are at this really great time in their lives when they’re learning who they are and who they want to be. They have so much going on, and a lot of them are missing something… they need hope. They need to hear about Jesus. They need to hear that they are loved and that God has a plan. They need to hear that they are important. I have that hope and God called me to share it with them.”
Inside and outside of youth group I was privileged to see Eric’s enthusiasm. His passion to share truth was one thing that led me to marry him. As I served alongside him in various ways from that day until he died, I was blessed beyond expectations to also grow in love for girls and guys in middle and high school. I got to know many of you on personal levels; to hear your stories, laugh with you, and share your struggles. I was able to pray with you. The time I had with you was precious to me as I know it was to Eric. To those of you who were impacted by Eric, I want you to know that I’m sorry he isn’t here to congratulate you. I want you to know that just as I am proud of you, he would be too.
On this special occasion, a new transition in your lives, I want to encourage you that even though we cannot know the big picture, the future is no surprise to God. He’s got this. Great things lay ahead, but plenty of sorrow will also be around nearly every corner because we live in a broken world. God will work it all for good and His glory (James 1:2-4; Romans 8:28). You have potential to accomplish great things. The more glory you give to God for those things, the longer you’ll be able to hold on to the joy that goes beyond circumstantial happiness (John 15:7-11). You’re going to fail sometimes, but if you keep your eyes on the promises of God, you’ll fall directly into His hands. He might give you more than you can handle, but nothing will ever be more than He can handle for you. Eric used to say, “if it’s big enough for you to worry about, it’s big enough to give to God.” My hope for you is that no matter what’s next for you, that you’ll seek Him in your struggles and then trust Him with your future. Let God guide you in His will with His Word. He is and was and will forever be faithful (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 23-24).
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:3-6
Congratulations, class of 2017. I’m excited to see what God does in and through you.