I just completed my fourteenth year as a teacher. Tomorrow, I will attend the graduation ceremony of another group of kids I have seen come through our school. I am always impressed with the “high honor” graduates. There are a distinct few who take school so seriously, they keep a ridiculously high GPA and receive this honor. In 1993, I missed being a high honor graduate. Of course, the lame old line “if I knew then what I know now” certainly applies here. Within every school year, there is a graduating class that contains great students, good students, poor students (who do meet minimum graduation requirements), and quitters. Which one were you? If you are still in school, which one are you on track to be?
I can’t help but think about my own little girl. She just finished up pre-school this year. As one group is graduating this year, my little girl will be starting the entire process this August. If the Lord is willing, in thirteen years, I will be attending my own daughter’s high school graduation. This is pretty amazing when I think that she made it to 5 years old awfully fast.
In James 4:14 it says “what is your life? It is a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away.” The Bible flat out tells us that life is short. I am about to be 36 years old in a few weeks. I actually remember being in the third grade watching the clock and saying to myself “I am NEVER going to get out of school!” School days seemed so long. The next 9 years seemed like they would never end. But, they did end. I try my best to teach students about the brevity of life and teach them to enjoy every stage and never wish their lives away. Here is how I break down the stages for them:
5-10 Primary (Elementary) School
11-13 Middle School
14-17 High School
22 – 52 Work
53 – ?? Retirement
I know this sounds morbid, but in doing this I teach them Psalm 90:12: Teach me to number my days that I might gain a heart of wisdom. Once they realize they’ve already gone through stages of life that they’ll never get back, many of them take their current stage more seriously. I am actually half-way through my “work” stage as of right now. I have completed 14 of the 28 required years in the South Carolina Education system. Once again, if the Lord is willing, I will graduate work. Then, I will retire. Then, if my dream comes true, I’ll preach the Word during my “retirement” years with my wife. However, here is the part so few people think about; after I retire…I will expire. I will graduate life as I know it on this planet.
When I graduate life, I want to be a high honor graduate. I want to have served the Lord with my whole heart. I want to have forsaken the pleasures of this world for the presence of God on my life. I want to have learned to stand in this sinful world where 99% of the population simply bows down to the gods of laziness, rage, money, lust, and drunkenness. I want to have led hundreds, maybe thousands to Christ. I want to have been a bright light in this dark, wicked world. I want my life to have meant something. I don’t want to be a quitter. In fact, I want to have confidence when I stand before Him that I know Him, that I love Him, and know that I never forsook Him. Recently, I saw a verse that tells me that this can happen. Check it out:
And now dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. — 1 John 2:28-29
If you were to graduate life right now, would you have confidence?
If the answer is no, repent and start all over today…do what you know is right, no matter what the cost is to you. Then, simply continue IN HIM! Then, long after we have expired, we will together and for all eternity rejoice and exalt the one who completed the great work He started in us.