Open Letter to a Graduating Senior
I am so excited for you as you embark on the next four years of your life. Just think, since before the foundation of the earth, the Lord has known precisely where you would go to college, as well as every other detail that encompasses your life right now. As I consider my own experience in college, I wanted to write to you on three concepts that are important to consider as you move away to college.
Christ wants you to know Him deeply and intimately. David writes in Psalm 139:17-18, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.” God knows us perfectly and that should be our greatest comfort amidst the disappointments of the world. How do we cultivate an intimate relationship with the Lord? By spending time with Him daily. If there is one thing that greatly changed my relationship with the Lord, it was when I committed to spend time with Him everyday. It is a habit I did not truly form until my last year in college (which I only regret not starting sooner). Psalm 119:11 says, “Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You”; and John 14:15 says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” The key here is God’s Word. The Psalmist confirms this when he says the blessed man is one whose, “delight is in the Law of the Lord” and who “meditates on [it] day and night” (Psalm 1:1). There is nothing else that can substitute this personal time with the Lord. Resolve to spend time with your Savior every day!
If you are going to follow the Lord, it means commitment. If you have experience in sports, you are aware of the meaning of discipline: giving up comfort, hanging out with friends or sometimes missing family functions in order to pursue becoming a better athlete. Jesus gives a similar call (Luke 9:23-25; 14:25-33), yet with infinite rewards (Philippians 3:7-14). He does not promise it will be easy (rather that there will be persecutions, trials, etc.), yet, the glory that awaits us in heaven is incomparable to anything we may experience here on earth (Romans 8:18). What does it look like to deny yourself in the area of your time, money, thoughts, and your body? For me, in college it meant foregoing late night movies so I could wake up (and be alert) to read my Bible before class (believe it or not, during my first couple years at college I could be found roaming the dorm hallways and socializing at 2:00 am). More recently it has meant lifting weights (which I despise) in order to maintain my body to be useful to the Lord. I would rather run to exercise because I rarely “enjoy” the process of strength-training, but according to my doctor it is the best thing for me, so I do it. The Scriptures are replete with examples of discipline and self-control, and being enslaved to God, not to our desires. As Paul instructs Timothy to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness, so I encourage you to do also (1 Timothy 4:7).
I cannot stress to you the importance of being in relationship with people. The older I get and the more I understand the Word, I see that sanctification is meant to happen in the context of the church. The time I have spent at FBC has shown me the role of the church in my own growth toward holiness; I cannot do it on my own. One other regret of mine from college is that I never put roots down in a church and got plugged in. I did not want anyone to know me too well, that the true depths of my heart would be exposed, so I jumped around to different churches in order to avoid accountability. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us that we need to be in church, and not just for the sake of showing up on Sunday mornings, but to “stir one another up to love and good deeds.” And the writer of Hebrews also says we need to encourage each other to keep our hearts from being “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). Be in a Bible-teaching church weekly and find older, godlier saints to speak into your life; ones who are willing to wound you in love (Proverbs 27:5-6), whom you can confess sin to and pray with (James 5:16) and be sharpened by (Proverbs 27:17).
I hope to hear how the Lord is growing you and the ways He is using you in others’ lives.
Praying for you...