Last summer, I went on a mission trip to Ecuador. My group helped with Vacation Bible School in a remote village in the jungle. I was surrounded by children who had next to nothing. Many came from abusive homes, and many had never even received a hug. As I stood there looking at the children and the joy on their faces as we helped them with crafts and just spent time with them, I realized the necessity of appreciation.
It’s sad that we don’t realize how blessed we truly are until we find ourselves surrounded by people who find their joy in things like a toothbrush or even fresh water. Don’t ever take your life for granted. You are living a life of royalty compared to the majority of the world. I always keep this thought in the back of my mind: if you only had what you thanked God for today, what would you have?
We have reached for the stars-- although we have captured some, we have also fallen short. Rather than focusing on the disappointment and the failures, we should find the light at the end of the tunnel. We must find victory in the loss, otherwise, we will drown in our discouragement.
You don’t always win, and that’s ok – losses can be blessings in disguise. Everyone believed Jesus lost on the day He was crucified. However, three days later, Jesus came out of that grave and was like “JUST KIDDING, WHO’S THE LOSER NOW, SATAN?” Even in the midst of failure, always look for the victory.
Keep in mind that choices initiate chain reactions. Sometimes, you won’t know what the right choice is. You’ll be confused, and in the midst of that confusion, you’ll make the wrong choice. When you feel confused and don’t know what to do, choose love. A choice for love is never wrong. When you choose to love, love fiercely and fearlessly– love rooted by fear is bound to fail.
Throughout my life, my dad has told me how important my reaction is. Think before you speak or act, and speak life into others, not death.
Be careful with whom you allow to see your vulnerability. Vulnerability is a privilege that should be earned, not broadcasted. Protect yourself before you wreck yourself.
Identity is defined as “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.” As we go our separate ways - some to college, some straight into the workforce-- I ask you to cling to your identity and never lose sight of it. There will be times where your identity is challenged.
The world will attempt to strip you of your identity– society demands that you conform to fit its mold. However, your identity is far too valuable to lose. Your mistakes don’t define you, your failures don’t define you, your feelings don’t define you, society most certainly doesn’t define you - YOU define YOU.
This day marks the end of this chapter of our lives, but it also marks the beginning of the rest of our lives. God has crafted an intricate and unique plan for each one of you. Don’t ever doubt your purpose. God has already paved the way for us.
Sometimes, we will feel alone– but we’re never truly alone. We may be living in the present, but God sees the whole picture. He’s way ahead of us, but He wants to meet us in the middle. If you ever feel alone, remember that God will never leave you-- He just wants to meet you in the middle.
When you step out of your comfort zone, that’s when you begin to move mountains. Don’t ever limit yourself or place boundaries on your abilities. Remember: we aren’t called to be comfortable.
So, class of 2018, I leave you with this quote from Billy Graham: “God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.” What will you give? What will your legacy be?