“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
This is the season of graduation, the time when many families have been waiting for, preparing for, thinking about for a long time.
Young people are transitioning during the months of May and June to first grade, to middle school, to high school, to college, to the military and to work. The U.S. Department of Education has noted that graduation rates for one group, the high schoolers, are at their highest in three decades.
This is a very exciting time for the Richardsons, for two more members of our family, Tyler and T’Chaya, are graduating from high school. To the best of our ability, we have tried to plan their future with them, because high school graduation is just the “commencement” or beginning of their adult lives. We’ve looked at the options they have for college and have imagined what the world will look like upon their graduation.
But what we don’t know is all that God has planned for them. It does not matter what the pollsters, pundits and prognosticators claim, no one can accurately predict all that will happen over the course of the next months and years. Our best forecasts are just educated guesses. But what we can do is give these graduates Godly advice on how to face an uncertain future.
‘God has plans for those who face their fears, forget their failures and follow their faith. There are many things about tomorrow that we may never understand but we know who holds our future and our lives are in His hands.’
First, all those who are graduating from whatever venues must face their fears. There are always giant-sized challenges confronting graduates which bring on fear and anxiety. Transitions are seldom completed without interruptions and intersections. Situations are too hard, too big, too tough. Graduates may consider themselves too small, too weak, too overwhelmed, with too little time or resources to succeed. But if fears are not courageously faced, they cannot be fixed.
Second, graduates must forget their failures. Look how God navigated the circumstances of their lives through missteps, bad turns, and bad decisions to have them still end up at a place where they can progress. Barbara-O says, “Inhale the future, exhale the past; inhale the good, exhale the goop.” The Bible says, in Philippians 3:13, “forgetting those things in the past, and reaching forth to those things which are before” we press onward.
Lastly, graduates must follow their faith in order to be successful. Ms. Corrie Ten Boom said in one of her speeches, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Since it is God who has plans for our future, we must acknowledge Him, trust and believe Him in all ways and at all times.
God has plans for those who face their fears, forget their failures and follow their faith. There are many things about tomorrow that we may never understand but we know who holds our future and our lives are in His hands.
In the words carefully prepared by the Rev. Frederick E. Marsh, I offer this paraphrased version of his prayer for all graduates:
May the Lord grant you an acceptance that can never be questioned, an inheritance that can never be lost, a deliverance that can never be excelled, a grace that can never be limited, a hope that can never be disappointed, a bounty that can never be withdrawn, a joy that can never be diminished, a nearness to God that can never be reversed, a peace that can never be disturbed, a righteousness that can never be tarnished and a salvation that can never be canceled. Amen.
Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net . Website: WTRMinistries.com