A few tips for our graduates

Published 4:10 pm Friday, May 26, 2017

As is often the case on special occasions, my wife came in from school the other day with several tokens of appreciation from some of her students.  She is always proud of what they do for her, whether it is a small item purchased or something made by their own little hands.  This time was no exception as she showed me a jar filled with several items; she smiled as she told me that the child who gave it to her proudly stated that it was left over from Mother’s Day.  That was perfectly fine with her, but I doubt whether that kid’s mother intended for Miss Gale to get that much information.  With retirement just over the horizon, she has heard and seen enough from the years of working with young children to write a thick book!

Gale has been in the school system long enough to see some of those little ones becoming young adults as they graduate from high school and prepare to embark upon the larger world.  She wiped their noses, dried their tears, and corrected them when they were mere tots, now they are ready to face the great unknown out there that is filled with tremendous responsibility and unlimited potential.  They will face challenges like we all have, but they will also have opportunities–hopefully greater opportunities than those of us who have walked decades ahead of them.  And maybe our example has left them some wisdom and guidance to help them face it all with courage.

We sometimes struggle trying to figure out the perfect graduation gift for that special young person in our lives, and even in our best attempts whatever is chosen is usually soon forgotten.  But the intangible can be the most enduring, as in a few words of wisdom for life.  2 Chronicles in the Old Testament paints the picture of the life of a king from which we can gain such insights, and from his life I wish to offer several tips to our graduates.

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The Bible states that “Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years.  His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah.  He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father [ancestor] David had done” (2 Chronicles 29:1-2, New International Version).  There is much to be learned from both King Hezekiah’s successes and his failures that can provide great wisdom for facing whatever the future holds.

One thing to note about Hezekiah is that he did not allow the negative elements of his past to determine his future.  His father, Ahaz, did evil in God’s sight, yet Hezekiah chose to please God.  No matter what our past consists of, we can make the personal choice to do the right thing, to live Godly lives, and strive to please God in all matters.

Another aspect of Hezekiah’s life that we can learn from is that he knew how to call out to God in times of need.  During a time of great uncertainty because of the threat of an enemy, Hezekiah turned to God in prayer (2 Chronicles 32:20), resulting in God destroying the enemy and bringing safety to the king and his people.  To successfully face the challenges of life, sincere prayer is an invaluable tool.

King Hezekiah was also willing to exercise humble repentance when he did wrong.  When pride got the better of him, “Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his  heart” (2 Chronicles 32:26).  Repentance—admitting our wrongs and turning from them—is an essential strength for a God-pleasing life.

Class of 2017, Congratulations!  Face your challenges with God’s guidance, grasp opportunities with His strength, and give your very best for His honor.  And utilize the things that King Hezekiah practiced in his day so that it can be said of all of you, “They did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.”