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Graduation Day…

Well, today, our third grandson, Cooper, graduated from high school and will begin his college days this fall at Indiana University in Bloomington. That means that we will only have one grandchild left who will start high school in the fall – the other three have already made the transition to college. Before we know it, another complete generation will have a university education. As I sit here today, I really didn’t think that Janet and I were old enough to have three grandsons in college, but there is no denying that this is the case.

Most of my career has been spent dealing with people and helping them figure out their giftedness, both from the spiritual perspective as well as the practical issues that each of us face in our daily lives. It’s interesting to note that those of us who were in the career industry, in one form or another, recognize that attending college deals with handling the body of knowledge, the Master’s level deals with “mastering” the body of knowledge in a particular discipline and Doctorate level work is expected to add to the body of knowledge.

I know in my own journey this has been the case and I fully recognize that as the body of knowledge increases, the world is becoming more and more specialized in terms of scope and competency in a chosen field. The ability to be a general practitioner in almost any discipline is going away and our upper level educational institutions must adapt and be able to deal with this ever present transition.

I have watched Cooper grow from a sports loving young boy into someone who has realized that he wants to spend his upcoming career in the arena of sports broadcasting. IU certainly has a reputation for being an institution that should be able to prepare him well for this path of life. Unlike his older brothers, Cooper has never really wavered, as most of us do, with what he feels called to do. Many times, years ago, I thought that it would have been wonderful to enter the broadcast world, but certainly not in the area of sports! God didn’t gift me in that way.

Cooper has always seemed to have an unusual commitment to a direction that seems to have been divinely inspired. I have come to recognize that each of us has different passions, gifting and styles that result in a unique call on our lives. Admittedly, sometimes there isn’t much overlap, from a knowledge perspective, with many of the people that I engage with. Even family members have different styles and it took me a number of years to realize that our differences are what makes us stronger as a family. We don’t have to all be alike – in fact, we are healthier and better as a family when we demonstrate our individual strengths to others.

And like Paul reminds us in his discussions of spiritual gifts, the body is stronger when we leverage our God given gifts together for the glory of God. Frankly, life would be pretty dull if we all acted the same way. I wish that God had given me the insights that I have today when I was much younger. It may have made a difference in my chosen career path, but Janet would tell you that my life experiences and upbringing, in concert with God’s divine guidance, have landed me exactly where I am supposed to be. I hope the same is true for Cooper as he begins to explore this next season of his life. It is important for him to understand that there are no wrong answers – and as a grandfather, I have only one piece of advice for him… don’t sell out for the money!!! Our children have that tattooed on the inside of their foreheads, I think. At least, I hope they do!

If your love what you do, God will take care of the rest. And as my grandfather told me when I graduated from elementary school, the most contented creatures on earth are those who find themselves in the will of God. Our verse for tonight is probably the most well known verse in the Scripture regarding life and calling. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us of the words of God in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This is one of the most beloved verses that faith based career ministries use to keep us centered in our quest to be in the will of God. Because we don’t need to know everything that will happen to us in our lives – just the next step; and God will always provide that.

My encouragement this evening is that each of us thrives on hope – something to look forward to and, hopefully, enjoy. This is Cooper’s season of life to let God direct his steps… My prayer is that he, and each of us, will continue to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and rest in the grace and mercy of our Father as we prepare ourselves in the ways that have been divinely laid out for us. Well done, Cooper. Congratulations on your graduation and know that we love you! Now, learn to subordinate yourself to the will of God. You won’t be disappointed – in fact, you will live your best possible life! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

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