This week on the local news, one of the headlines was all of the high school graduations taking place. The reporter showed clips from several area graduations and announced the number of graduates at each school as the clips rolled. I attended a graduation myself on Sunday. As I listened to the graduates and principal speak, watched the diplomas being accepted, and saw the flashes from the cameras of proud parents, I couldn’t help but think about how predictable the graduation ceremony is. As the news report showed clips from other graduations, the predictability continued to be evident. Each speaker talked about how fast the time had gone, how they had encountered challenges, and how, though they may be leaving, they would always have each other. Each school passed out diplomas and moved tassels. Each graduate wore a silky robe and a flat hat. Same ceremony, different gym.
The irony lies in the contrast between a ceremony of scriptedness and predictability as those graduates prepare to face the most unscripted times of their lives. Graduation from high school often throws the teenager into a world of new choices, and the support they’ve always been surrounded by, the advice-givers, are no longer down the hall. Though there is one advice giver who remains as close as those high school days – the Lord.
As I watched those teenagers cross the stage, I couldn’t help but feel so much like them. I, too, am graduating. I’m leaving the familiarity and comforts of a career that I’ve loved. I am preparing to face an unscripted time and still am not quite sure what comes next for me. I opened my Bible this morning to James and found the perfect message for those high school graduates and the graduates of life experiences.
James writes to Jewish Christians living in Gentile communities. He writes to those who have been spread across the nations without their support systems or advice-givers. He writes to the high school graduate, to you, and to me. He tells us that when we are faced with choices and are in need of advice, we should seek wisdom from the Lord. It is not enough to just seek though, we must trust the wisdom the Lord provides — we must believe and not doubt. How easy is it to doubt our own decisions? The graduates may feel doubt about choosing the right college or roommate. Doubt about leaving all that they’ve known for 18 years. That same doubt is present when we make decisions as adults. Was this the right career move? Am I doing the right thing for my kids? Are we making wise choices with our finances? We doubt ourselves when we rely solely on our own wisdom to make decisions. But James tells us that when God is involved in the decision, there’s no room for doubt. When we fully surrender our lives and our will to the Lord, he will guide us in wisdom and doubt no longer has a place. Will there still be fear of the unknown? Yes. But if our decisions are rooted in God’s will, we can replace those fears and doubt with confidence that he knows the unknowns and will provide for our needs as we face them. Whether we are recent graduates, beginning a new phase of our adult lives, or simply facing everyday challenges, we can turn to God for wisdom and trust in the advice he provides, knowing that if we are in God’s will, there is no room for doubt.
Father, as we each face our own graduation moments of uncertainty and new terrain, thank you for being with us. Remind us to seek wisdom from you knowing that you will provide. Help us to focus on your will and to trust in your plan for us. Help us to feel assurance rather than doubt when we follow your leading. Thank you, Lord, for being the ever-present advice-giver so that we never have to fear being away from your support.