May is graduation month. I should know, as my “baby” brother Ridge is graduating this weekend. In honor of Ridge and all the other graduates, I’ve asked author Kristen Hogrefe to share her insight and encouragement with us. Kristen has delivered three commencement addresses and is currently writing a devotional for graduates, so she’s in tune with what young people need to hear. She’s also made this material accessible so, regardless of your stage in life, I’m sure you’ll find great value in this two-part blog. Please leave a comment with your feedback.
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!
Dr. Seuss penned these well-known verses which have become synonymous with graduation. They capture a sense of achievement and the anticipation of climbing the mountain ahead.
Mountains are awesome to climb (We’ll talk about that in just a minute), but there are several other places graduates will find themselves in the years ahead. Some of them are exhilarating; others are exhausting.
Even if you’re not a graduate, you can still relate to these places. Wherever you are in your journey, I hope these words will encourage and challenge you to pursue your God-given dreams – wherever they take you.
For those of you who are graduating, this is where you are right now. The spotlight is on you, and your parents are in a frenzy to make every moment special, every moment count.
Personally, I enjoy mountain climbing. Last year, my brother and I hiked Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the northeastern United States. The sense of achievement upon reaching the top (and surviving the round trip) merited a large iced coffee, a chocolate cake donut and bragging rights.
Mountaintop moments chronicle our success stories, and you’ll probably climb several figurative, if not literal, mountains in your life. However, pinnacles can be dangerous if we hunger for them more than for God.
In The Truth Project, Dr. Del Tackett calls this desire a hunger for significance. The drive for success is natural and God-given, but it can become a killer when we crave significance above our relationship with God.
The Apostle Paul warns about this pitfall in Galatians 1:10.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (ESV)
Go climb a mountain. Go for your goals, and do so with the drive to please God with your life.
Geographically speaking, valleys are much wider places than mountaintops. Death Valley stretches 100 miles long across the borders of California and Nevada. It is one of the hottest places in the United States.
Life sometimes brings us face to face with trials that threaten to burn us. We lose someone we love. Our application is denied. We don’t get the job or promotion. The relationship ends.
Although the future sometimes looks hopeless in the valley, we don’t have to travel it alone.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me… (Psalm 23:4a ESV)
Valleys are part of living in an imperfect, broken world. By God’s grace, they won’t keep us down for long. Regardless, our Lord goes with us through them.
There are some other places you’ll go in life after graduation, and we’re going to look at two more next week.
Until then, I have an assignment for you. Grab a pen and notepad, and write down your hopes and dreams for tomorrow. No matter how crazy or impossible they seem. As someone has said, “A dream is just a wish until it’s written down.”
You’re either going to face these goals (take risks) or forget them (avoid life). I strongly recommend facing them, because no matter how scary your dreams seem, they are at least experience or at best, success.
After you’ve written them down, then pray over them – that God will shape them and give you the courage to pursue them tenaciously.
Then, get ready for the adventure. You never know what places you’ll go.