Well, it’s getting to be that time of year again. Yes, that’s right – it’s graduation time! Pre-schoolers will graduate to kindergarten. Elementary students will begin the “terror-filled” years of middle school. Middle Schoolers will become High Schoolers. High School seniors will become college freshmen. College students will graduate. I am feeling a little old as I watch babies I’ve known since birth now entering the next stages of their lives. It always amazes me how fast kids grow from the innocent child with upturned faces listening to every word spoken to them to the teenager who consistently looks at their shoes or rolls their eyes when spoken to, then morph into incredible young adults. It all seems to happen in the blink of an eye.
Yet no matter what stage they are in, these kids reflect the values they have been taught by their parents and church family. They epitomize the words of St. Paul in his first letter to his student, Timothy: “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12, NRSV) They set for us older folks an example of what it means to be Christian. They question. They search for authenticity. They hold us accountable for living out the life we have taught them to live. Now, I’m not saying they are perfect because none of us on own is able to achieve such lofty heights. I am saying that because they are the Baptized children of our heavenly Father, adopted by him to be brother to Jesus Christ our Lord, they will always have their Christian family to help and guide them, even as they help and guide us – the older generation.
Every now and then I am asked to put together a slide show presentation for the High School Senior Graduation dinner celebration. I have had the privilege of watching most of these kids “grow up” in the church. From fresh faced babies to freckle-faced tweens, I have seen them grow physically and mentally, but most importantly spiritually. A few of this year’s High School Seniors are the kids of some of my best friends so it is a bittersweet time. My friends are about to set their “babies” free into the world of adulthood – something I can relate to since I’ve had to do it twice! No longer will they be able to protect and shield their kids from all of life’s bumps, hills, and deep valleys. Many of these young adults will be leaving to attend college far from home. Others will attend schools closer to home. In either case, the rhythms of their lives, and the lives of their parents will be forever altered. But one thing will remain: Jesus promises to walk beside them (student and parent) through whatever life may bring.
There will undoubtedly be highs and lows, tears and joy, temptations and God-honoring opportunities, but because they have their faith to fall back on, nothing, I mean nothing, will ever sever the bond between us, them, and our God. “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
As I think about the wonderful young adults about to be set free into the world, I am remind of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Fingerprints of God.” The lyrics go something like this:
Just look at you. You’re a wonder in the making.
Oh and God’s not through, no — in fact he’s just getting started.
And I can see the fingerprints of God— when I look at you.
I can see the fingerprints of God — and I know it’s true.
You’re a masterpiece that all creation quietly applauds.
And you’re covered with the fingerprints of God. (1)
Lord, we pray that those who are graduating from one stage of life to the next never forget that they are covered with your fingerprints – the hands that created them will hold them through whatever life brings. Grant their parents the peace to let their children soar and become all that you have created them to be. In the Name of Your Son, whom you sent to earth to save us all from sin and death, we pray. Amen
Marveling at the Fingerprints of God,
Graphic licensed under Creative Commons with frame added.