Updated: Jun 19
I was slated to be the personal speaker for graduation, after the main speaker, and I was under instruction from my better half to make sure I kept it celebratory and cheerful, because if I was sad and solemn then the rest of the ceremony wouldn't flow.
Of course, she was right, but that was more of a wrestle for me than I bargained for. It was one thing to watch my son walk down the aisle a few years ago. I knew a chapter was closing for him and another was beginning. But while I was fully aware of the gaping hole that he was about to leave in our lives, I at least had the comfort of knowing I still had my daughter around. Losing my son as my sidekick was hard, but my daughter stepped right in and eased that sorrow.
This was different. I don't know if it's the Papa Bear in me, but watching your girl charge off into the world is a very different feeling than watching your son jump into the fray.
With your son, you're thinking "Yeah! Go! Conquer! Be Victorious!" With your daughter, you're thinking "Be careful! Watch out! Situational awareness! Ah! I won't be there to protect you, to grab some guy by the back of his neck and usher him out and away."
And on top of all that, she's the last to leave the nest, and my wife and I will soon embody that dreaded declination....Empty Nesters. Yuck!
Those in the audience were very familiar with the song our graduates walked into, and you would be too. Most call it The New Year's Eve party song.
The actual title, “Auld Lang Syne”, literally translates to “Old Long Since."
It was written back in the 1780s, and it's often considered the most famous song sung round the world that nobody remembers the words to.
Soldiers in the trenches of World War 1 would sing "We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here."
It was basically about remembering old friends.
Until a songwriter a few years ago had a brilliant idea: "Why not take the most familiar tune and pen words that will point to and glorify God?"
And so today we have: "Should nothing of our efforts stand
No legacy survive
Unless the Lord does raise the house
In vain its builders strive
To you who boast tomorrow's gain
Tell me what is your life
A mist that vanishes at dawn
All glory be to Christ!"
It’s so important to remember and not forget.
It’s so important to write things down.
Our graduates are all sharp as tacks right now and in their prime, and with God’s help their parents have honed them into precision instruments.
But someday, Lord willing, they'll grow grey hairs, and their lives will be so filled with blessings and memories that the new ones will begin to crowd out the old.
That well-oiled machine of a mind begins to dull and fade as God turns the wheel of time, and we all begin to forget.
The last few speeches we've heard over the graduation years have been amazing, filled with insight and wisdom, powerfully delivered by men and women much more gifted than me. The only problem is that after a few years, nobody remembers what they said.
Either that, or that chapter of treasure gets reduced to a paragraph, then a sentence or two, and eventually maybe just two or three words if any at all.
3 Years ago it was Mike Vetter: WOW! It was phenomenal! But nobody remembers.
2 years ago at Jaison’s graduation, it was Professor Mike Burhow: So filled with insight! Nobody remembers.
Also 2 years ago Kari spoke and it was amazing, but all anybody remembers: Plan nothing.
So I kept my message simple.
"Come and See!"
Throughout the Old & New Testament, there's this interesting word, "Ah!" What I love about it is that roughly translated from the original text thousands of years ago, the word means....Ah! That's right, it's the same today as it has been throughout time. It's a universal word for when there are no words, and throughout the Bible, these writers from all walks of life and cultures all came to this point where words just couldn't describe what they were feeling. Kari's favorite is Jeremiah 32:17 "Ah, Lord GOD! It is You who have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for You."
It denotes great pain, great surprise, great exhaustion, great frustration, great relief….basically great emotion.
It can also be just a groan.
What makes a groan so beautiful?
With all the eloquence of the tongue, all of the languages, there has been throughout history, times when we just feel much, and when we find ourselves at those crossroads, we can remember that even then, it's a word that God completely understands.
Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Hard times come, and they will. Yet, when we are so filled to overflowing from some crux of a circumstance, we can literally cry out to God, and He understands! Nothing is lost in translation!
We can look at any trouble of life and when we remember God’s sovereignty and power, we gain such a powerful perspective to cling to: God’s got this. God’s got you.
Next was Come and See, which we can find in John 1:39, as the disciples began to follow Jesus. They wanted to know who He was, where He was going, what He was going to do, and Jesus turned to them and said so simply, "Come and see."
What I love so much about this is this little vignette, this peek we get into the heart of Jesus. Here He is, God in the flesh, with the power and ability to literally blow our minds with His intellect in explaining who He is and what He’s doing here on earth, and yet what does He say?
“Come and see.”
Not, "I am God, the Creator, and here are the thousands of pieces of Scripture that prophesied My coming."
Not this Pharisaical approach to the mind of man, but instead there comes these words that resonate with our natural, childlike faith. “Come and see.”
You would expect to hear these words from a child, and that’s how I imagine them every time I read them. “Come and see.”
What does it mean?
It means join Me, watch Me, come along with Me, glean from Me, witness Me…. do life with Me.
And that’s exactly what they did. From Andrew it passed to Peter, then Philip, and then we hear Philip trying to explain this amazing majesty to Nathaniel. As Nathaniel begins to make light of this idea of the Messiah, all Philip can do is pick up what he had learned from Jesus, this most base, natural idea, “Come and see.”
That’s the idea I wanted to leave with them and with you today.
Always run to God. Ah! Cry out to God and remember He doesn’t need your lofty words. Sing to Him when you’re troubled. Worship Him through the good times and the hard times. And when the times come that you lose your words, remember: He understands even your groans and INTERCEDES ON YOUR BEHALF.
Come and See. As you Go throughout the rest of your life, DO LIFE WITH JESUS. Do you want to know Him more? Do you want to love like Him, see like Him, hear like Him? Do you want to know what plans He has for you, then keep your days tied to Jesus. He has so much to show you if you will but give Him your heart and your time.