A couple of weeks ago, I saw a young man in front of the library, sitting atop the statue of Athena the Tiger. He had his graduation cap on and waiting for someone to take his picture. It was the day before commencement so it wasn’t unusual to see students walking around with a bag containing their full academic regalia, although they don’t usually mount Athena to mark the occasion. While some students simply wandered around campus reminiscing about the past four years and dreaming about years to come, others took advantage of unique photo ops. But, all of the picture taking, formal ceremonies and sense of excitement in the air was just part of the pomp and circumstances of the weekend.
For some reason I was reminded of the series finale episode of The Cosby Show. It centered around Theo Huxtable’s college graduation and was appropriately titled, And so we Commence. I feel like the last semester of college is almost a paradox. Both a beginning and an end. Most people attend commencement services or throw parties to celebrate the end of at least one leg of their educational journey. However, when you get right down to it, the graduating is not the commencing. The commencing begins after all the pomp and circumstances ends. That’s when students face the “real” world as we call it.
Much like we do when we finally come to the end of ourselves and find our “real” relationship with God. After we step away from all the great devotions there are out there. After we have read all the wonderful books filled with explosive or not so explosive testimonies. After we finished “preparing” to do what God has called us to do and actually just step out in faith and commence to doing it. Even if doing it means starting over or facing our procrastination for what it is.
Having worked in higher education for many years now, I am very familiar with the not so wise choices young people make leading up to graduation. Especially those who put off the responsibility of taking care of a mix up or mistake. Sometimes students will make it all the way to the day before graduating and be faced with the reality that unless they take care of a bill owed to the school, or a book not returned to the library, they will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony. It can be a stressful time because they have done all the work they needed to do to obtain the degree, but they still cannot formally graduate because of a minor detail they have left unchecked until it became a major issue. To get so close and have something of a non-academic nature keep you from completing the process can be a hard thing to swallow. Fortunately, higher education is very forgiving. It gives you many opportunities to make it right. And, so does Jesus.
For many students, commencement is a time of life changing decision making. In the previously mentioned Cosby Show episode, Theo was given a hard choice on the last day of his job at the center or school he was working for at time. He could stay and help a young boy who desperately needed a mentoring moment or he could rush to the airport so that he wouldn’t miss his plane and his once in a life time “dream job” opportunity. Which one do you think he chose?
Today, I want to remind you to consider the words of Zachariah 4:10 and don’t worry if you have to start small. Just start somewhere. The platform that you are to share your message with the world may be a lot smaller than the stages of Broadway or a mega church. But, your “small” circle of influence is usually bigger than you think. I mean, if you find yourself in the situation like Theo and take time to share what God has given you with one person and that one gives back to someone who gives back to someone else, it only enlarges your circle. And, just because you have to start small does not mean you need to stay small. You just need to be content where you are until God moves you and you can’t be afraid to move.
My friend, I don’t know if this graduation season finds you commencing the rest of your life at a formal graduation ceremony, walking down the aisle at a wedding or just waking up every day and praying for strength to get out of bed each morning. The truth is none of us know exactly what the future hols for us. But I do know that if you allow Jesus to walk you through it, it’s going to be a much smoother journey. So, go ahead and complete that degree or make that difficult decision, prayerfully. Struggle if you have to, but don’t give up. Just make sure the real reason you are struggling doesn’t have more to do with how the decision will or won’t be part of what you already know is God’s purpose for your life than it does with a lucrative salary or a toxic relationship.
Commence to get busy enjoying life by truly living the John 10:10 life God intended for you to have instead of just existing.