One of the more difficult experiences I have had as a human is that of change. When something is working, I tend to cling to it, repeat it, knowing that the previous success of that activity must surely be mirrored in each subsequent repetition. When I was a student, I understood the rules for success. If I showed up, did my work, and used my head, I could usually pull through. And that's what I did for four years. In fact, it's what YOU have done these last four (or more) years. You've been present, you've applied yourself, and for the most part, you knew what to do because you were a student.
But all that is about to change. God has a way of forcing us out of our comfort zones. Have you noticed this? One need only look at the changing seasons and how we must adapt to them to know that change, transition, transformation are all part of God's plan to challenge us, to keep us reaching and working toward a closeness to Him that only the sloughing off of the old life can bring. For a long time, I was under the illusion that it was up to me to learn how to adapt, that part of the test was to see how well I could make do, on my own, a victim of good old-fashioned self-reliance. But I know that I do nothing on my own. Not one thing. And this is such a relief. I hope it is to you, as well.
I think there is a bit of this notion of self-reliance attached to the concept of graduation, isn't there? "Well, here you go: a bucket of knowledge. Now, go out there and use it. You have everything you need." Many of you may have felt this voice in your ear as you've approached this final week of your college career, felt it settle around you like the weight of a brick necklace. But this has never been the goal at Concordia. And you knew this in your decision to spend the last few years in the middle of Nebraska. You have known from the beginning--that what you were given here you would be asked to return to others as you left Seward and found your place in other towns.
Even so, that fear of the unknown appears when we feel the most vulnerable, the most new:
We think: I'm on my own? I have to DO something with my life? This is the end?
I know how terrifying and exciting the answers to these questions can be. One moment, you can't wait to move on and the next, you're curled up in your bed hugging a pillow and wishing you would have failed at least one semester's worth of Gen. Ed. classes just so you could put off graduation another four months.
But let me tell you this, and I will try to tell it to you as plainly as possible:
You were never, nor will you ever be alone. You are not expected to be self-reliant. In fact, now, when that blank page sits before you on the desk of life, now more than ever is the time to bend the ear of your heart to God's word and to the space created in prayer. In faith--knowing He has brought you here to this terrifying, this thrilling new beginning so that you might know again and again that in life you will be continually asked to accept the breaking of your old life, your old self so that you can be His new creation again and again forever.
Many of you may not know what the future holds, but truly, not one of us does. You are simply in that blessed and awkward position where the present moment and your future meet in full force. God would not have brought you here to this point had He not known that you were ready. Trust this place in your life as being exactly what you needed.
And I can tell you this:
There is no end. What you have been given, what you HAVE given here at Concordia is yours forever. And the lives you reach, the light you shine into the hearts of those you will help in the future (and you WILL help others--knowing you, I can say this with all certainty)--this too is part of His plan. All things connect in His love.
So let this seed of your life break open. Bear the weight of the change. Bravely (because you were made with courage) take up these moments before you and become other than what you were. Onward. Upward. Toward your becoming. Toward Him.
God bless you as you continue to grow in His perfect care.