“Sheepish” Advice for Graduates

Congratulations Graduates!

sheep10You are probably experiencing an array of shifting emotions right now: excitement, relief, anxiety, fear, joy, doubt, regret, gratefulness, confusion and more. The season of your life that, at one time, seemed like it would never end has now snuck up on you. In the blink of an eye, a tossing of the hat, and a shaking of the hand you have received your diploma and are now being thrust forward into a wide open future of new opportunities and unknown surprises. How exciting!
I like to think of our first 18 years of life—our childhood school days—as sheep wandering about in a fenced-in pasture. While your lives have been uniquely lived, and your experiences significant and formative; still most of you have lived your lives within certain safe and predictable boundaries, herded along with the rest of the flock by many loving shepherds, doing all of the expected school-aged activities.

Your graduation from high school marks the beginning of an entirely different season of life. Now you are leaving the relatively safe and predictable life of the shepherd’s pasture, and embarking on a wild and unpredictable journey into an uncharted future. You are no longer sheep following the rest of the herd; you are now pioneers clearing your own unique path into the big, wide-open future. You are no longer being led blindly along by parents and teachers. Now you are to follow only one Shepherd, the God who created you uniquely for his special, perhaps yet-to-be-revealed purpose for your life.

Life outside the pasture fence is more risky and dangerous, yet more thrilling and fulfilling as well. The world is not always a friendly, safe place. It can often be a very mean, unforgiving, shallow, unfeeling place.  Some days you’ll feel like very much like sheep among wolves.  Yet, I believe we only learn to follow and trust God when we have left the safety of home and begin our journey into the unknown.
08.03-graduation02Look at the Scriptures again and you will notice a theme that goes from the beginning to the end of the Bible: God calls us to a journey of faith and trust, and He often meets his people first in those uncertain desert places.  Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jesus and Paul all encountered God in the desert in powerful ways, and had their life’s unique calling revealed, tested or reaffirmed there.

So, as you leave the pasture and enter the wilderness desert, and begin facing the great unknown with both confidence and insecurity, always remember that God is waiting to reveal Himself to you in new and powerful ways. I pray you have come to know the Good Shepherd, for he alone will show you the way to realize your unique calling and purpose for life. Follow Him!

When in doubt, seek refuge, wisdom, counsel, guidance and assurance from His Word. The verses below have been instrumental in my own journey in the years since I graduated from High School. Hang them on your dorm room wall, place them in your Bible, stash them in your car somewhere and commit them to memory. 

May God’s peace comfort you and his Word guide you as you embark on the next leg of your journey!

BIBLE VERSES FOR LIFE

“How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. I have tried hard to find you—don’t let me wander from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9-11).

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.”
(Prov 3:5-6)

“Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light to illumine my path.”
(Psalm 119:105)

“Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.”
(Phi 4:6-8)

“Seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all other things shall be added unto you. Don’t therefore be anxious for tomorrow: for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.”
(Mat 6:33-34)

“For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul.”
(Jer 29:11-13)

Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.
(Rom 12:2)

“The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised. Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, LORD, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me. You prepare a banquet for me, where all my enemies can see me; you welcome me as an honored guest and fill my cup to the brim. I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life; and your house will be my home as long as I live.”
(Psalm 23:1-6)

“So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away — look, what is new has come!”
(2 Cor 5:17)

“Follow Me.”
Jesus

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
(Rom 8:1-4)

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