|Posted by Springhill's School of Hope on June 16, 2017 at 11:40 PM|
On June 15, 2017, students, parents, staff, and friends gathered to celebrate the conclusion of the first decade of the school's existence. Brother Leonard delivered the charge to the seniors, challenging them to live for God in the epic story of which they are a part. Here is a transcript of the commencent address:
In one of my favorite movie and literary scenes, two of the heroes are trapped and lost in a series of endless caverns, chased by an enemy that hides in the shadows and facing stronger, unknown foes in front of them. They are on an impossible quest to a place in which no one can survive and in which evil destroys all that is good. There is a monster behind and an even bigger one ahead. Frodo, a small hobbit from an insignificant corner of the world, turns to his friend and mentor, Gandalf and says:
“Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
I love this story and others like it, in part, because they are epic. Humans love epic stories. We like clashes between forces of good and evil involving “normal” people doing extraordinary things. Why are we drawn to the big? To the epic?
Because that is the world into which God has brought you. And you, ladies, are taking your next step into the epic. You are not here by random chance. In the book of Jeremiah, God tells His prophet, “I knew you, had a plan for you, and had set you aside even before you were conceived.” Sometimes we read words like that and think maybe they were meant solely for the person to whom they were spoken, but throughout the Bible, we are assured that eternity itself has been waiting for each of us to take our places. Phrases such as, “before the foundation of the world,” and “in the fullness of time,” give us the promise that we are NOT left to the random dealings of chance and cruel fate; rather it assures us that we are part of something much larger, and that our role in the drama of eternity has meaning.
So, how does our role in something universal and eternal play out?
It begins with the acknowledgement that it’s not all about us. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit whatever you do to the Lord, and we will establish your thoughts.” Storms are going to come; things are going to go wrong; you will have bad days. You will face disaster. Sometimes you’ll wonder if everything’s gonna fall on your head. Finding your every day, every moment foundation in God and His eternal promise gives you the base that you need when things get crazy. When we look around we see a world desperately in need of love, peace, and service. When we place our faith in the Creator and focus on the eternal, it allows us to see beyond the seconds, minutes, and hours that make up our days.
Next, participation in the epic works out through little things done to the best we can. This seems almost a paradox, but all big things are made up of smaller pieces. Sometimes in the years ahead, you will look at a day and think, “Man, I’m just spinning my wheels,” or “I’m so bored doing this AGAIN.” In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon tells us to enjoy our lives, to enjoy one another, and to do everything to the best of our ability, to do “with all our might.” This is the process used for the “big things.” It is in the successful doing of everyday things, that we’re being molded to the bigger works ahead. In Matthew 25, Jesus relates the parable of how to attain success – be faithful in the little things. It’s been 33 years since I sat where you are, and I can tell you that we seldom wake up and say, “I’m going to do something huge, and world-changing today!” However, waking up and committing to “I’m going to do everything awesomely today!” gets you prepped for the call-up to the "big" times.
Finally, we look for and take every opportunity to serve others. Don’t just give to a charity; go work at the charity. Don’t talk about feeding the poor, feed them. Give them your sandwich. James chapter 2, verses 15 and 16 reads, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that?” BE the source of good in a world filled with bad. If you cut hair, do nails, play music, sell art, build houses….whatever it is that you do, be sure that you do at least some of it for those who cannot for themselves. George Mueller, the great philanthropist and man of faith, started orphanages in England during the 1800’s died almost penniless after more than two million dollars passed through his hands during his lifetime. Where did all that money go? To house more than 10,000 orphans and to start 117 schools that would ensure 120,000 students would learn to read, write, and hear the Word of God. By earthly standards, George Mueller’s decisions seem….nice…quaint….but….maybe not so realistic in today’s world. But Mr. Mueller was following a higher calling. And I would encourage both of you to do the same.
To live well in the epic story that IS your life, remember:
Put God first
Do the small things well
Serve others at every opportunity
In this, you will find true success.
Your friends, family, and staff of the school and church gathered here tonight support you. We pray that God surrounds you with His love and people who continually point you towards Him.
It has been an honor to know and work with both of you.