I made it through my son’s high school graduation without completely falling apart. I really did pretty well. It was a nice day that we celebrated together as family and friends. No real big hoopla, just barbecue and cupcakes served on paper plates.
Surprisingly, the ceremony itself was a fairly dignified affair. The teachers all proceeded into the school gym in their black robes, followed by the students in their red robes. The large room was packed with family and friends all there to cheer their students on across the finish line.
One by one different speakers took to the podium to share words of encouragement and wisdom for the future. Without fail, each one mentioned that these kids were now starting a “new chapter” in their lives. By the time the fourth speaker took the stage and talked about this “new chapter”, I was like- enough with the “new chapter”!
But it occurred to me then, that I, too, would be starting a new chapter in my own life. I have never before been the parent of a high school graduate. And just like those kids graduating, I really have no idea what this new chapter will bring. I mean, I have a few ideas, but reality will be just as different for me as it will be for them.
I am ready for this new chapter. I really am… as much for me as for my son. I won’t be as involved in the direction of his story anymore. I will have to take my place on the sidelines and watch his story unfold. I will be on the edge of my seat eager with anticipation.
I worried some over the last few years about this day. Had his dad and I prepared him enough for real life? Will he be ready to make good, sound life choices? Will he want to cling to his faith and chase after his God? Will he define success in life with what really matters? Does he know what really matters?
A few years ago, I was speaking at a women’s weekend retreat, and heard the mother of a teenage son say these words.
“Coming this weekend was a hard choice for me. I only have so much time left at home with my oldest son before he graduates high school. I really hate to miss one minute with him.”
My oldest son was just starting high school at the time, and in all honesty, I thought she was a bit touched in the head. After all, I had plenty of time left with my son… or so it seemed. But time marches on, and before I realized it, I was thinking similar thoughts about the time I had left with my own son at home.
Our lives are uniquely planned with these new beginnings. They come wrapped in all kinds of situations. Marriage is a new beginning. New babies bring new beginnings. Graduations, birthdays, new jobs, new years, all can bring new beginnings. Even loss can be a new beginning.
That’s how things work in God’s economy. The Bible teaches us that his mercies are new every day. We may scrape the bottom of the mercy barrel by the end of the day, but when we open our eyes the next morning, our mercy barrel is full again. (So wishing I had a bank account that worked that way.)Each new day is a new chapter in our lives. How often do we get up from bed with plans for our day to proceed in one way, only to find they turn out completely differently? One phone call, one email, can change the course of our day, even the course of our lives.
We foolishly like to think that we are the authors of our own lives, and the masters of our own destiny. But the true Author and Master is patiently working all these things together for our good. While we cannot forget there is the enemy out there who would love nothing more than to derail us and mess with our heads, when we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, he will be faithful to complete the good work he began in us… throughout every chapter of our lives…
…Whether we are a newly graduated high school student, or a forty something mother learning to step back and let her son fly.