Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.. .. So Abram went, as the LORD had told him… Genesis 12:1-4
It’s graduation time again! A couple of weeks ago in worship we recognized 27 high school seniors who are preparing to graduate; all over the church we have college students in the midst of graduation; we even have preschool graduation next week! This Friday I’ll have the privilege of offering the Baccalaureate Sermon at the graduation of Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. It’s graduation time all over the place.
We’re proud of our graduates, and it’s appropriate that we express our congratulations to them. Graduation… whether it is from preschool, high school, college, or graduate school… is a significant step, and it’s exciting to celebrate with the folks who have accomplished this milestone.
But a comment made to me yesterday from one of our graduates has caused me to stop and reflect on this important step. This young adult, who is preparing to graduate this week from college, said to me, “I’m not all that excited. I have no idea what I’m doing next.”
Graduation celebrates where we have been. It celebrates our accomplishments which are now in the past. But by definition it also means that my life is now in a state of transition. Things are changing. What has been my norm for the past several years is no longer part of my life.
And let’s be honest. That can be frightening. Closing one chapter and beginning another can be overwhelming.
But it doesn’t take an official school graduation for us to face changes in life. A change of health can mean a move from one place to another. A divorce, or a broken relationship means closing one chapter and beginning another. A relocation, a change of churches, in truth, a change of any kind is a type of graduation. We’re moving from one stage to another. And that can be overwhelming.
In a far more dramatic way, God called Abram to leave his homeland and venture into a new land. It was, if you will, a graduation of sorts. He was closing one chapter and beginning another. But it worked, because Abram knew that the God who was with him in the past would be with him in the future.
Like our young college graduate, we may be closing one chapter without knowing what the next chapter will look like, but we can be sure of one thing. The God who has been with us in the past will not abandon us in the days to come.
In yesterday’s sermon I referred to a hymn by Isaac Watts, and whether you are facing a joyous graduation or a disappointing moment of grief, or any time of change, I invite you to hang on to these important words:
To paraphrase Watts, “The God who has been our help in ages past will most certainly be our hope for years to come.”
Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church