I typed this up and planned to print copies for all of you on Monday morning, but you don't often read what I print and hand you, so I thought making this available digitally so you can read it on your phones would up the chances of you reading my words. Now you have a permanent link, a little spot on the Internet you can visit in the future if you need to wrap yourself in what I pray are warm memories of your years at OCS.
In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen says this:
“Self knowledge is the first step to maturity.”
The coming months and years will test you in ways you’ve yet to be tested, and a crucial part of facing the challenges to come head on is knowing yourself, being honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and making plans and decisions accordingly.
As you leave this place that has been a home to many of you since you were tiny, you are leaving behind a life that was largely structured for you. Go here, do this, write this, get on this bus, wear this, don’t wear that. You are tired of all the instructions, I know, but guess what? You may soon miss them as you enter college or the workforce, the unstructured world of adulthood.
You were created by and made in the image of a God who values order and structure. Satan knows this, which is why he loves chaos. He doesn’t have to convince you to commit big sins; he only has to keep you constantly busy, distracted, drowning in noise and chaos. If you allow it, your life will be dominated by an unending, exhausting restlessness fueled by constant noise and chaos. Remember what Satan hates according to Screwtape? Silence. Seek silence regularly, especially when you are anxious and overwhelmed.
God created everything — the family, the church, and our very bodies — to reflect His desire for order and structure. I know He values order and structure because He dedicated numerous sections of scripture to giving us detailed instructions regarding the structure of the family and the structure and organization of the church. The further families move from these instructions and the further churches move from these instructions, the more openings Satan has to enter and create chaos where order should reign.
Here are five suggestions I have for you as you leave OCS.
One. Get over yourself. You are special, but I don’t know if you truly understand why. Everyone you know is special, the people you love and also the people you don’t like so much, and they are special for the same reason you are: because the Living God who created you found each of you worth the life of His Son. When you begin to understand your worth is rooted in Christ, you begin to understand everyone’s worth. To borrow the lyrics of “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us,” . . . I will not boast in anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom / But I will boast in Jesus Christ / His death and resurrection.
Two. Get to know yourself. Don’t fear spending time alone. Address your flaws. Be honest about what habits or addictions you have that might prevent your success in college, in the workplace, and in relationships. Be honest about what habits and addictions you have that might jeopardize where you spend eternity. I hope you leave OCS and fulfill dreams and live a happy life, but what I want more than anything is for you to spend eternity in Heaven.
Three. Protect your future. I’m not going to give you a sex and drugs and alcohol lecture, but rather a warning that college — regardless of where you go to college — might possibly overwhelm you initially. Be smart. Envision your life in ten or fifteen years. What does it look like? Keep that picture in the forefront of your mind. You do not wake up one day and simply step into the life you’ve always imagined for yourself; you build it slowly, over time, by making good choices.
Four. If you marry, marry someone who loves God first and completely. God designed the family to meet the needs of every member. It is His design. Some of you no doubt have negative views of marriage and maybe family in general. The flaw is not with the design; God designed marriage, and He designed the family. The flaws rest with sinful, imperfect humans. The world aches for stable, happy families; create one, and cling to God and each other.
Five. Use my phone number if you need it.
I leave you with this from Jack Kerouac's On the Road:
What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.
|My beautiful confidantes.|
This is a little heartbreaking for me, but it is part of life and part of this job I love. It has been a joy and a privilege to spend this final year of high school with you.
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