There were also two students who gave speeches. They were both pretty generic speeches, but I do remember the one young lady talking about how they were all going to succeed and become someone great. Doctors, scientists, writers, etc. Oh what hope she had. What confidence she had that they would all prosper; that they would all go on to become productive adults.
I remember when I was in high school. For me it was just getting through each day as it came. As the child of alcoholics I never really gave my future a thought. I'm not even sure I considered that I might have a future, let alone a bright and shiny one. In a business class I was in we had to team up to learn life skills. Learn to balance a check book, how to handle a budget. We had to say what we wanted to be when we were grown up, because that would be the example for the salary we would base it all on. I couldn't think of anything, so I said corporate lawyer; that sounded impressive I thought. If you know me at all you know that is something I would never be good at, let alone attempt. High impact, dealing with people, stressful. Nope, not me. I just never thought past the day I was enduring. I never saw a bright and shining future for myself. I never had a plan.
So as I sat and listened to that young lady give her speech I had a tear in my eye. For that 18 year old that I once was. Who instead of learning job skills and how to succeed at life was learning how to be able to drink and party and hopefully still get up for work the next morning. I was married before I even went through that graduation ceremony having left school after the first semester with all the credits that I needed. I was out working already and hey getting married was a way out of my parents house. I did love my first husband, as much as a broken damaged person can love anyone. And I think he loved me, but we were in a dead end town in a dead end relationship; nowhere to go but down. And down we did. Self destructive. Mutually destructive. At least he had the courage to walk out. I kept continuing in that downward spiral of work, drink, party for another year or so. No plan, no thought for the future.
But even though I had no strategy, no agenda someone else did. Someone who had a plan for my future. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV) There was this great big God who loved me before I even knew Him. Yes I knew of Him, but there was no relationship. I had no time for that kind of thing. I was busy living my life; places to go, people to see. Yet all the while, the whole time I was frittering my life away, this God had plans for me. Plans for a man who would lead me to Him. A man who would love me, cherish me. Plans for children and step-children, for grandkids. He saw my future when I all I saw was my painful past and a black hole in front of me. He saw all I would go through. He knew I would one day walk away from Him, but that His gracious love would draw me back. He saw the loss of my parents, but He also saw that I would have the joy of caring for them and then seeing them enter into His presence. He saw the hardships, the happiness, the pain and the pleasure. He saw it all and took me by the hand and led me though it all, and continues to do so.
Life is like that football field set up for the commencement ceremony. All those chairs, all this time. It seems that life will go by slowly, sometimes painfully slow. Yet it all goes by in a blur. One day you are 18, having air horns blown as they call your name, the next you are a 56 year old nana and more than half your life is over. You see the thing is though, no matter what your plans or lack thereof; no matter if you are an incredible success or end up homeless on the street, God has a plan for you. But just like in that graduation process, where you have to walk up as they call your name and accept that diploma, you have to say yes to the Lord. You have to say yes to His plan for you and for your life.
While listening to the speeches given at Maddy's graduation, it was all sunshine and roses. All glitter and unicorns. We will be scientists, doctors and writers, etc. Not we will have some drug addicts. We will have some who go on to beat their wives and children. We will have some who live in endless drudgery as trash collectors. No thoughts for the downside to life. A future so bright you gotta wear shades. No losers, all summa cum laude. And truthfully, in God's kingdom, in His plan for us, yes we are all summa cum laude. Summa cum laude means with the highest honor, or with the highest praise. In God's eyes, we are all summa cum laude. Top of the heap. Apple of His eye. Cherry on top of the sundae. However you want to look at it, we are His crowning glory. As His children, it is like we are walking down that aisle going to collect that diploma. The crowd is cheering, as the angels do when one sinner repents. There is applause and your name is being shouted. You cross that dais and your certificate is handed to you. There is joy in the air and a feeling of anticipation. You are now a graduate, and the tassel on your cap is moved from the right side to the left. The practice is a visual indication of the fact that the person can now claim title to the diploma he earned. Then a member of the school board stands and authenticates that all the graduates have met the requirements for graduation and voila! your new life has begun! So we as children of God also receive that certification, we are sealed by the blood of Jesus into a new kingdom. We move that tassel indicating a change in our life, once a sinner, now a beloved child of God. And suddenly we enter into a new life. A commencement ceremony for us as we graduate from a life apart from God to a life as His own. A commencement, a new beginning; a hope and a future. A future so bright you gotta wear shades.