It’s graduation day for high schoolers all over the country. To the class of 2016, may I say congratulations! The next phase of your lives will be the most exciting. Just a year ago, I walked across the stage of West Carter High School and received my diploma. I remember the thrill of the new beginnings quite well. Then began one of the greatest adventures of my life.
The following fall I started college at EKU. I packed up and left all the people I grew up with and the place I’d lived for 18 years and moved an hour and a half away. I knew two people, neither of which were the person I’d be sharing a room with. To say that it was an adjustment is an understatement.
I was most greatly impacted spiritually. This new adventure didn’t come with a spiritual map of where to go for guidance, or how to make sense of this new free market of ideas. I met a lot of people who said things that challenged my long-held beliefs. I encountered lifestyles I didn’t know how to respond to. Over time it felt like this foundation of faith I had built was no more than a sandcastle crumbling under me.
But God was faithful to meet me there. He let me know that He was still here, still relevant, and still good. He led me to people, both adults and students, who would disciple me, mentor me, and pour their life into me. I sought, and I found. I asked, and I was answered. I learned lessons I will always carry with me and that made me stronger.
So my advice to you, the graduates of 2016, is this: you are inevitably going to run into things that make you uncomfortable, that make you doubt, that bring about questions you can’t answer. Don’t run from that. Don’t run from people who challenge you. If they challenge you for the better, you need them. If they challenge you for the worse, they need you.
Know that sometimes, doubt is okay. Because it forces you to dig in your heels and find out what you believe rather than what your parents believe. It forces you to seek God’s face when your picture of Him is unclear. The great C.S. Lewis once wrote of God, “He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.” If your house of cards is knocked down, you haven’t failed. You’ve been given an opportunity to build something with God that is more durable and lasting.
Finally, know that God will meet you in your uncertainty. He does not cease to be real because of our doubt, and He does not cease to be good because of our anger. He is big enough to confront our questions even if we don’t get an answer. Sometimes the answer is more than we can wrap our heads around. Don’t give in to the easy answers the world supplies, because the truth is rarely easy, but it does set you free.
To sum it up in fewer words, seek God and know that He is good. Wherever you go next, He is already there. My prayers are with you all.
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