Editor’s note: Today’s devotion is slightly adapted from the Ministry Message that accompanies CTA’s newest graduation theme, Celebrate the Past, Embrace the Future. If you have students heading off to face new opportunities this fall, use this devotion to remind them that their Savior has many good things in mind for their future—no matter where it takes them. Don’t forget, you can order going-away gifts for these young people at www.CTAinc.com.
“Congratulations! What are your plans?”
You graduates have likely heard these words and answered this question at least 846 times in the past few weeks. The people who have asked it care about you. They are excited for you. At one time or another, most of them have stood where you stand—on the threshold of new adventures with a whole new life stretching out in front of you.
Still, I recommend that you linger just a moment or two (or a day or two!) on the first word of that greeting—the word congratulations.
Especially as Christians, it’s important for us to linger on that word as we reflect on the past and celebrate it. In the days, the months, the years that have led up to this point in your lives, you have received countless blessings from your Lord. If we were to take time right now to count those blessings, we would be here a long, long time!
First of all, there’s life itself. Life is a gift from God. Your life is a gift from God—to you and to all the rest of us here today.
In addition to life, God has also given each of you a specific mix of talents, personality, abilities, and experiences—all the things that, when combined, make you, you! The mix makes you unique and uniquely valuable. You can do things in ways that no one else can and will do them. Your uniqueness and your abilities will grow and mature as you cultivate them. You will be better and better able to use your uniqueness for the good of others. I hope that’s one of your primary goals!
God has given you life and has made you a uniquely valuable person. In addition, each of you lives in a family and enjoys the blessings of love, support, and the boundaries your family has provided. Your families have encouraged you and have helped you all along the path you are on. Your graduation celebrates you. But in a significant way, it also celebrates the many people—family members, teachers, pastors, and friends—who have made this day possible for you.
So, let me add my greeting to those you have already received: Congratulations! Enjoy your day, your week, your month, as you celebrate the past!
As we look back on the past, though, there are certain things we don’t want to celebrate, aren’t there? Things we may not want anyone else even to know about! Maybe there’s a paper or a test we cheated on—and no one caught it. Maybe there’s that party we’d rather forget . . . or a whole string of them. Maybe we’ve said things to Mom or to Granddad, things we wish we could take back. Maybe we lied to Coach or to a teammate or to a girlfriend.
No one wants to celebrate everything in the past. But as we think of those things we regret, here’s one thing we can celebrate! (Read 1 John 1:8–9.) In Jesus, in his cross and empty tomb, all our sins are gone! Every day is a new day! As we move into the future, we can do that with a clean slate, with a clear conscience. We can bask in the assurance that our guilt is gone!
Assured of that, we not only celebrate the past, we also embrace the future. You may be headed into the military. You may have a job lined up. You may be buying sheets and towels and a coffee maker to take along with you into your new college dorm.
Whatever your plans, it’s good to remember that you are not the only one with plans for your life. Listen! (Read Jeremiah 29:11.) This verse does NOT mean that you are some kind of puppet, living out a script already cast in concrete. You are not a robot. It’s fine to make plans for yourself; in fact, you should do that!
But as you plan, remember that your Savior has many good things in mind for you, too. He wants you to stay close to him and to his family, the Church. He wants you to live in love, caring for his creation and for the people around you. He wants you to grow in using those talents, abilities, and that amazing personality I talked about earlier—the uniqueness your Lord has entrusted to you. Most of all, throughout your lives, God wants you to become more and more like Jesus! Just like Jesus!
You have a past to celebrate! You have a future to embrace! As you do that, all of us here at (name your church or organization) will be praying for you. We are here for you. We are your family. Let us know how we can continue to help and support you! We want to do that!
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