I’ve heard it said before that “this life is but a dress rehearsal for the next.” If that’s true (and I happen to think there to be some merit in this understanding), then we are best served by paying closer attention to the scene changes in our lives … to the crescendoing moments that warrant an audience’s notice and applause therein.
Center stage moments are God’s gift to us. I’ve authored a few of my own in the course of my forty-three years on this earth. More than these, I’ve sat ringside to the moments of those whom I love the most. This weekend holds one of those pauses for me. My son will graduate from high school.
I’ve walked this road before, thus granting me the benefit of hindsight. This one doesn’t sting as profoundly as the first one did. Not because this one is less important, less special, or any less embraced, but rather because familiarity removes some of the mystery of it all. I can better enjoy this milestone because the pain behind the first one wounded me deep enough to teach me … to shape and to modify my heart’s approach to the process.
There is worth in this moment. There was worth back then. But back then, I couldn’t see it. All I could do was muster enough strength to get through it. This weekend, I will have the privilege of soaking things in rather than soaking up my tears. Thus, I choose the pondering of a high school graduation and its merit as it pertains to the bigger picture. What is it about “turning the tassel” that speaks of a heavenly tomorrow?
Here’s what I think…
Graduations are launch pads. Behind them? Lots of time logged into the classroom of programmed learning. Ahead them? Lots of time logged into the classroom of experiential learning. One is the necessary predecessor of the other if the “other” is to walk easier—more truthful and more peaceful. Without the benefit of a preceding knowledge, our launching resembles a premature push from the nest that often ends with an unnecessary wounding. Sometimes the wounding is fatal, but more often than not, it leaves us with a limp that slows the process of our becoming.
There is a time to every season in our lives. This is my son’s graduating season. He stands on the launch pad of an incredible “next.” He’s ready to fly, and I’m ready to push, knowing that his wings have been fortified with eighteen years worth of feeding that have prepared him for the highs and the lows of the winds that are certain to follow.
He harbors just enough courage to take this step; I harbor just enough grace to let him do so. And between the two of us and our “just enough’s”, God is faithful to come alongside and offer his portion of “more than enough” to see us through this moment and to move us further into the promises of a better tomorrow.
There is coming a moment for each one of us … a graduation of sorts … that will launch us from the safety of our nests into the mystery of winged flight. The time we’ve logged into our earthly classrooms, coupled with the learning therein, will be the lynchpin to secure our safe passage. Some will launch prematurely, unable and ill-prepared to face the frontier of God’s forever. Some will launch at just the right time, with just enough courage and more than enough grace to land them safely into the arms of a waiting Father.
Either way, all will be required to make that step; thus, what you’re doing right now holds value for what you’ll be doing in God’s next. You may not think that this day’s unfolding matters for much of anything. You may think it matters little. But I think it all matters to God. Every scene of our lives—every mile we walk, every test we take, every prerequisite laid out for us in the curriculum of a heart’s shaping—is significant and necessary as it pertains to the turning of a final tassel when we stand before our Creator.
In that moment, God won’t be looking at the long list of credits that we drag behind us. Degrees and promotions and the applause of man aren’t enough to launch us toward eternal flight. No, what our God will be looking at is the heart that supersedes our fleshly gains. Did it beat for him? Did it walk for him? Did it love for him? Did it die for him? Does it, in any way, look like him?
That is the criteria for our graduation, friends. If we pass that test, then the tassel will turn, the diploma will be given, and the sacred commendation of our Savior will speak a final blessing of truth over our life’s journey…
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25:21).
If “this life is but a dress rehearsal for our next,” then there is much to be learned via a high school graduation. I will be paying attention to the details this weekend. God is ever speaking. How I pray for a heart to be ever learning. Thus, I pray…
Keep me as a student in your classroom, Father, all the days of my life. Keep my heart in a posture that is willing to receive your instructions as vital and necessary for the road ahead. Forgive me for thinking that I “know it all”; forgive when I make excuses for “knowing too little.” Teach me just exactly what I need to know, and then fully grant me the courage and grace to walk in that knowing until I get home to you and receive my final graduation. Amen.