Caps and gowns everywhere! Smiling faces. Proud parents. Adoring Grands and even congratulatory hugs from siblings. It’s a great occasion and we mark it with well-deserved fanfare. Pomp. and. circumstance.
So many graduates! I imagine each of them bouncing on their own personalized trampolines, springing giddily into the air, paying no heed to the creaking complaints of metal springs better suited to children’s play. These celebrants are ready to boing to their next appointment: be it career or college, military or volunteer service, or perhaps just promotion to the next grade or next level school.
Congratulations! Way to go! But, I pray, dear young people, that this day is more than lift-off for you. May it also be deflection point.
Because so much in your world to this point has demanded that you achieve maximum height: jump higher, score better, achieve more, set new records or perform the best aerial trick. Success on that life-trampoline rewards perfect landing and launching from the same spot. No deviation. Simply master the repetitive motion. That’s more tantrum than lift-off.
I pray that on this graduation day you may embrace a little deflection. Accept permission to stop jumping straight up-and-down.
On an Easter evening two millennia ago, the disciples of Jesus experienced a graduation ceremony of their own, but it was no cause for celebration. Jesus had been crucified, died and was buried. Up until then, when Jesus said, Jump; they said, How high? But now, without the one who was their teacher, leader, and counselor, they cowered in fear.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. ~ (John 20:19-22)
The disciples needed deflection. Following the leader was no longer an option. To stay the course, they needed to chart it themselves. In the peace that only Jesus can bring, their Lord sent them.
Dear Graduates, congratulations on your arrival at this day. From its precipice, look into your distance to notice what calls you, and listen for what draws you. Breathe that in. Let it inspire you. Let it energize you. Allow it to bring you peace. And then, let it deflect you toward a future that has been designed for you. Play that angle. Even the slightest deviation, multiplied by your landing force, will send you into new air space that you have not yet sampled.
Memorize that feeling; it’s called courage. You’re charting new territory. Take your momentum with you and spring for all your worth. Hey, bouncing up and down on your backyard trampoline never had much growth potential anyway. Let the deflection take you — to scary places, challenging places, and into untrod territory that desperately needs new minds to solve old problems.
Go and may the peace of Christ be with you.
“I can say what I want. It’s a free country!” the kid said, shoving his friend a little harder than a friend shoves a friend. The rest of us standing in line to board the flight pretended not to notice these boys ‘doing what boys do’.
That kid is feeling pretty free. I’m thinking he probably has had a pretty smooth ride to today. It’s likely he hasn’t experienced much hardship, suffered significant tragedy, or been the victim of persecution or injustice. These are the heavy burdens that tend to come into our adult lives and, thankfully, the very young are unaware, but when do we introduce them to our kids so they can become acquainted?
Oh, we teach our kids to say please and thank you. We teach them to say I’m sorry. We insist they sit up straight and eat their vegetables. But do we teach them that sometimes things don’t go as planned, and in fact sometimes things stray very far from the plan and we must carry them through anyway?
Just say thank you gets us part way. It gets us to the starting spot on the game board and ready to play. We pick up the dice where our thanks takes its turn. Thanks tosses and goes. It launches from the start point and doesn’t look back. That’s the way the game is played. Take no prisoners; first to finish wins.
But what needs doing?, hesitates before hefting the dice. Onlookers might suppose this is for rule clarification or directional assistance, but actually it’s for confirmation. What needs doing? pauses to be sure it’s really her turn. Is there anyone who needs a lift to the game before I begin?
“Lord, show me the need I’m meant to attend to?”
“Dear one, you couldn’t bear the masses of hurt, pain and hatred you would see through My light.”
“How do you bear it? How can you live that way?”
“I didn’t. It killed me. Now I do.”
…”I am so grateful. Show me how to live in deep gratitude for this rather than in the shallow thanks that precipitates please, may I have another.”
“Lord, there is no other. You are my way to our unfathomably generous God. Please help me live out my gratitude.”
Gratitude works with.
Gratitude gives back.
Gratitude commits for the long haul.
It doesn’t look around for better options.
It finds a place for everyone.
Truly Grateful stays and helps,
Thanks tosses and goes.
Free is not free from burden.
Its hands are empty and held out.
What needs doing?
We were browsing in a fancy leather store and I had tried on a Prada purse just for fun, but she could tell by the look on my face that I could never go out in public sporting that thing. Too much. It wasn’t just the price, it was the spectacle, the showiness, the ostentation that made me quickly return it to the rack. Not me.
Yet, my generous God keeps giving me stuff I don’t deserve. I haven’t earned it and other people need it more. It’s embarrassing.
But … “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. (Matthew 25:29)
I give. This is My purpose.
You receive. This is your reason.
He who knows the discomfort of receiving that which is not his;
She who receives, not setting it aside until its proper owner comes to reclaim it;
Use your talent for God and God will use it for the Kingdom!
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)